Watchword for the week — God says, “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations.” Genesis 17:7
Assigned Scripture passages:
Not too long ago, things were perfect!
- Not too long ago, there was a long line outside Peter’s house with people waiting to see Jesus.
- Not too long ago, Jesus was so popular that he could no longer travel in the towns and villages for fear of being mobbed.
- Not too long ago, after returning from a trip on a boat, a large crowd had gathered to hear him speak at the lakeshore, and one of the leaders of the Synagogue asked him to come and heal his daughter who was close to death, and the crowd followed him along the way.
- Not too long ago, Jesus named his 12 disciples. A group dedicated to helping him and learning from their master.
- Not too long ago, Jesus had fed 5000 men plus the women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish, and there were leftovers.
- Not too long ago, while the disciples were being tossed about in their boat by a horrific storm out on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calmed the storm, and when they got to the other side, people were gathering from all over with their sick to be healed by this miracle worker.
Not too long ago, things were perfect, and Peter knew it, which might explain why Peter spoke up when it seemed as if Jesus was calling an end to this run of fun.
Of course, he was objecting to what Jesus had just told them that he 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.
Not too long again, things were going just fine – and now this? Peter wants the old Jesus back, not the one talking about going to Jerusalem and being arrested, suffering, and being killed. After all, compare that ugly scene with walking on water: which would you want?
So, Peter takes Jesus aside, and this account says that Peter began to rebuke him. 33 In response, Jesus rebukes Peter saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but human things.’ At the end of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, it says that after Jesus had stood up against all of Satan’s temptations, Satan left him to look for a more opportune time. Well, here we see that the time had just come. Jesus knew that in Peter’s bold statement, he was being tempted once again. So Jesus looks right at Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan.”
These are strong words in both directions. Tensions are high, but Jesus here wants to make something very clear; this is not about a comfortable life, this is not about taking care of yourself, this is all about giving yourself for others. This is all about following Jesus, the very definition of mission.
Have you ever noticed the Moravian Seal on the front cover of the Moravian Book of Worship? There have been complaints about it because some folks like that the Lamb is looking back over his shoulder. They prefer the version of the seal that has the Lamb looking forward as if leading the way. I say that the Lamb is looking back to make sure that we are still there. Our place is following our Lamb’s lead.
Peter’s first response to Jesus here was not to follow but instead, he was trying to tell Jesus what he can and cannot do! In other words, Peter tried to lead Jesus in the direction he thought Jesus should go rather than follow Jesus to the cross.
In response to the twin hurricanes that hit our Moravian Brothers and Sisters in Nicaragua and Honduras back in November, the Board of World Mission began asking for donations to help bring relief to those who had lost everything. The response has been amazing, with people responding over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Holidays with donations both large and small. So rather than keeping that money to purchase holiday gifts and decorations, they denied themselves and reached out to help others. So far, the Board of World Mission has sent over $130,000 to church leaders in Nicaragua and Honduras to enable them to purchase food, water, medicines, and seeds for crops. When we follow Jesus, we give up some of what we want to help those in need.
Here is our call to love as Jesus loved, give as Jesus gave, and share as Jesus shared.