Mark 8 v 31 - 33

The faith declaration of Peter produces the frankness of Jesus. He tells the disciples openly that He will subvert the common Jewish assumptions about the Messiah through what He is about to do. We were reminded yesterday of these assumptions and the disciples must have been shocked that the true Messiah would bring deliverance through His own suffering and death. They had always heard previously that the Messiah would bring unity, hope, success and all-conquering victory! To Peter and the others this was frankly impossible and Jesus, the One who had always been more in touch with reality than anyone they had known, had suddenly revealed some areas of madness. Peter begins to rebuke Jesus and Jesus rejects Peter's words in the most potent way possible. Why? Because what Peter was saying brought up options, just as the devil had done in the wilderness. The idea that the pathway of suffering and death was not the only way forward, that they might be-and there was short term, less painful and more popular pathways.

Let's be clear: Jesus did not want to die and He had powers He could use which would bring the whole nation to Him in unity. However, that was not what the Father wanted, it was not a long term way of bringing in God's Kingdom and it would entail Him taking back the divine powers which He had emptied Himself of when He was born into the world- Philippians 2 v 6-8.

One of the closest friends of Jesus was Peter and this is a reminder to us that the tempter sometimes speaks in the voice of a well-meaning friend. We may have decided on the right course, but one which will bring struggle and unpopularity. Our friend decides that this is not for us and seeks to dissuade us: their love for us blinds them to God's calling on our lives. This is one of the hardest things to deal with, because we know we will be upsetting our friend and whenever we find God's calling to be so hard as to be impossible, we can look back and regret that we didn't opt for the quiet life. Not even the pleading voice of love must silence the imperious voice of God!

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