Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord;’ he said ‘this must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?
‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.’
There are traces of Peter’s attitude to be corrected in most of us. We all have our own ideas as to how God ought to organise the world. We try to twist God’s arm in prayer to sort things out our way. We search for bypasses to the difficulties and the suffering and commitment that comes with discipleship. We seek to lead in our dealings with God rather than get behind Christ in an attitude of humble following. We pray, ‘thy kingdom come’ yet we work and pray in a manner that makes it clear that what we want is ‘my kingdom come’. We seek to have our own will implemented rather than renounce ourselves and search out the will of God. We wish to have our own word and our own way rather than the word or way of God put into action in our lives. The way we think is not God’s way but the way of mankind, the way of the world. Christ makes it clear that we have to turn our thinking upside-down or inside out and begin to see things as God sees them. We have to begin to follow rather than to lead. We have to serve rather than to control or direct. We have to pour out our lives in service rather than to seek and hoard the joys and pleasures of being served. Saint Paul puts the message bluntly and succinctly. He calls us to worship God in a way that is worthy of thinking beings. Offer your lives as a sacrifice, he tells us. Do not model your behaviour on that of the world around you. Discover the will of God, what it is that God wants and what is the perfect thing to do. Then, when the Son of man comes with his angels, he will reward us for our behaviour with nothing less that the eternal life won for us by Christ and that awaits us on the far side of Calvary.