Sunday April 10, 2011
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. – Mark 8:31-9:1
My favorite movies are the ones in which the underdog rises above the naysayers and doubters to achieve victory. It does not really matter who the film is about or how many times I have seen it. There is just something about a tale of endurance that never gets old. It is always encouraging and attests to the fact that we truly are more than conquerors.
However, real life is not as succinct as a 90-minute drama on the big screen. Day to day challenges have a way of overshadowing our hope. So when Jesus announced that he would suffer, be rejected and killed I can imagine that in Peter’s mind this did not sound like a plan scripted by God.
When we hear of senseless violence, deliberate injustice, economic depravity and blatant disregard for human life we often respond like Peter; we pull Jesus aside and rebuke him for the casualties of life. We sometimes forget that the invitation to follow Christ is not one of comfort. Instead it is an opportunity to suffer, to be rejected and to give one’s life for the sake of the kingdom.
Peter got so caught up in Jesus’ prediction of his impending death that he failed to realize the full essence of what Jesus had said. Yes, he would go down, but only in his going down would he truly rise up. When we lose sight of ourselves, our agendas and our plans for our very own rugged cross, then we achieve true victory.
As followers of Christ we are participants in the greatest story of endurance that has ever been told. We have the assurance of knowing that God will never put more on us than we can bear or ask more of us than God has already gave.
Lord we thank you for your sacrifice. Help us not to be distracted by the things of men, but to remain focused on the things of God. May your love strengthen us to carry our cross and may our actions and our words not put you to shame. – Amen
Shallie Pittman is a senior at McCormick Theological Seminary and a member of the Sure-Way Missionary Baptist Church located in Chicago, IL.