Remember in Mark's Gospel, in the eighth chapter when Jesus turns around, and in the presence of the other disciples, rebukes Peter? Do you remember why Jesus did that? Peter had just got done confessing Jesus as the Christ, meaning, he just got done claiming that he believed Jesus was Immanuel, God with us, the Divine Promise of the Old Testament, here in the flesh. This is such an amazing confession, the ultimate final exam for a disciple of Christ. Coming to the point of confessing Jesus is actually God. And immediately upon the heals of this great confession by Peter, who made this great confession right in front of the other disciples, Jesus begins to teach the disciples that He was going to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes and be killed, and then rise again. And Mark tells us that Jesus said this plainly. That means, they all understood exactly what Jesus was saying.
Now, what did Peter just get done confessing? That Jesus is God. Does God make mistakes? Does God miss deadlines or does God have a lack of understanding of what the future holds? You get the point.
But Peter, upon hearing what Jesus says is going to happen, takes Jesus aside and begins to rebuke Him!! Let this sink in for just a minute. Peter who just said, "I believe you are God", takes now Creator God and rebukes Him on His thinking! Rebukes Jesus on His time table and the future. Over in Matthew 16:21-23 is another account of this. Matthew tells us Peter said, "Far be it from you, Lord!" This can easily be translated, "May God be merciful to you Lord!" "This shall never happen to you!" Now, I am of the opinion that Peter is doing this because he loves Jesus and truly doesn't want Jesus to suffer nor die. I think Peter is basically saying, "I'm not going to let any of that happen to you Jesus, not on my watch!" I honestly think Peter has kind intentions here and is looking after his dear friend and Master, who he just happened to confess as God Almighty. Unfortunately, Peter has only gotten half the equation right. He confessed Jesus is God but he doesn't get why God came. Peter doesn't have the mind of Christ yet. He is only seeing things through is physical, earthly eyes.
Jesus responds in Mark 8:33, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man!" Wow. Can you imagine a harsher thing ever being said by our Lord? This stings just reading it! Oh yeah, Jesus says this right in front of all the others. Now it stings worse!
Do you remember the last time Jesus said this? It was during his wilderness temptations to none other than Satan himself. What was Satan trying to do in his temptations to our Lord? He was trying to get Jesus off his plan. His temptations were to get Jesus to settle for the glory, praise and care of the angels and people without following through with why He came and what He was sent for. Jesus was going to have glory, but only after the cross. Jesus was to be exalted again, but only after the humiliation and agony of the cross. If Satan could get Him to veer off that plan of the cross, then Satan would have gained the victory and God's plans would be thwarted and hindered. Peter, in thinking he had Jesus' best interests at heart and not wanting Jesus to carry on with His sovereign plan, literally became another satanic temptation to Jesus. And just as before, Jesus has to put Satan and his "short-circuiting" plan where it belongs, behind Him.
Jesus immediately takes the opportunity to teach a spiritual truth in all this (and we need to listen too). Mark 8:34-9:1 says, "Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Jesus wasn't willing to save His life on earth to lose it in heaven. Nor should we be. Mark 8:38 maybe sheds some light into why Peter pulled Jesus aside to rebuke him in the first place. Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Perhaps Peter was still thinking Jesus was going to turn out to be the great political leader all the Jews were so desperate for. Perhaps Peter still held out some hope that all the earthly sacrifices he and his brothers had made in following Jesus was going to pay out here on earth. Hopefully, sometime in the near future he would be proven right and not ridiculed for having followed this poor Galilean carpenter. There would be no more shame in being associated with Jesus when Jesus ushered in his Messianic kingdom and Peter was second in command! So you see, "Jesus you can't die, you have to reign! You have to do things that make sense to me, and that effect the immediate needs of our situation. Because what you do ultimately reflects on me since I'm a follower of You."
Jesus loves us. And He is always willing to rebuke us (which is love) if it means we correct our bad thinking and selfish reasonings. All this does is expose the heartfelt reasons why we follow Jesus. We are certainly living in unprecedented days. But never push God into the box of what we think He ought to be doing. These days do not change all that our God has told us or promised us. Has He told us not to be anxious? Philippians 4 comes to mind. Has He told us He is love? 1 John comes to mind. Has He told us He's praying for us? John 17 and Hebrews 2 and 4 come to mind. Let's not be guilty of pulling Jesus aside and after confessing He truly is LORD, rebuke Him because we struggle with the ways He shows He is LORD or, His timeline or plan with His earth and how He chooses to deal it. Instead, let us not be ashamed of the Gospel and step boldly through the many opportunities we are being given every day.
Let's pray for boldness. Not the kind that rebukes God to His face, but the kind that loses our lives for His Gospel's sake.