Follow Me

By Paul Davis of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  Mark 8:33–35

I’ve never understood why Peter and Jesus get into it so angrily when they could have been enjoying a lovely retreat at “The Villages” of Caesarea Philippi, a spa center overlooking the sparkling Sea of Galilee. They’ve earned a rest, here at the halfway point of Mark, having ministered together for months throughout Galilee and now looking toward Jerusalem.

Peter has come a long way. He has come to believe Jesus is the Messiah and has said so out loud. Figuring out the Messiah has come—is standing right before you—and not running away deserves some praise. Jesus rewards Peter’s brilliant, supremely courageous insight with a stern order to keep silent.

Instead of praise, encouragement, a celebration, Jesus delivers the most-shocking news. As Messiah, he is going to suffer, be rejected by the elders and priests, and be killed. Everyone knows that’s not what messiahs are supposed to do. They do what Isaiah said; they deliver their people from suffering. Peter can hardly be expected to make sense of what Jesus was saying.

It feels like an act of concern for his friend when Peter takes Jesus aside to tell him this can’t possibly be right. It’s then that Jesus delivers his famous line, “Get behind me, Satan!”

Peter can’t be expected to understand, but he’s acting as the Tempter. He’s inviting Jesus to give up the hard road he’s on, to forgo the suffering, the sacrifice. What he can’t imagine is that Jesus is about to ask him to come along, to get behind him, to follow.

Prayer for Peace:

God, our spiritual leader and guide, create in us strong hearts—willing to sacrifice and follow on the path of the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Embodying God’s Shalom

Each day this week find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s peoples, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.

What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking is God inviting you to consider this day, this week?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I recognize Jesus as the Messiah. I accept my mission to follow.

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