Have you ever dared to tick off your boss or superior? I’m guessing that most of us would only do so only if absolutely necessary, and as an absolute last resort!
Now, let’s take this further: what if the boss was the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Gospel of Mark records for us a stunning incident in which Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, took Him aside and sharply told him off (Mark 8:31-33)! We are told the circumstances that led to Peter’s tongue-lashing:
And (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31 ESV)
We may well ask: why on earth did Peter get so worked up at Jesus’s teaching? From our point of view, the content of Jesus’ teaching does not seem so surprising. But to Peter and the other disciples, this was the first time (as recorded in Mark’s Gospel) that Peter and the other disciples had any inkling of what Jesus’ true mission was. They expected Jesus to be a conquering king, the God-sent liberator of the oppressed Jews from Roman rule. Thus, Peter was completely mind-blown because Jesus’ stated mission did not match Peter’s mental model!
Furthermore, like most of the Jews of his time, Peter would have had a certain understanding of the “Son of Man” (a term that Jesus often used to describe Himself). The prophecy of Daniel in the Jewish Scripture would have come to Peter’s mind:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man … and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV)
Therefore, Peter may have been thinking along these lines: Jesus, if you really are the Son of Man, how could you possibly be talking about your death?! You’re supposed to be an everlasting king of an everlasting kingdom! What you’re saying simply doesn’t make sense!
Perhaps some of us may have the same questions that Peter did. If Jesus is really God, how can He die? And why would the Creator die for us, the people He created? In fact, Jesus told His disciples (in Mark 8:31, above) that His mission involved being rejected even by His own people!
Logically speaking, our rejection of God should rightfully lead to God’s utter rejection of us. But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, endured the suffering and rejection that people (and we are all included) inflicted upon Him, in order to make us acceptable and bring us back to God! He paid an infinitely high price – His own life – in order to embrace us and give us an infinitely good gift – new life in Him! Jesus died, then rose again after three days, and later ascended into heaven where He now reigns at the right hand of God, and will one day (soon) return as the conquering King, fulfilling Daniel 7:13-14.
Reflect upon this: Jesus Christ our God and King willingly experienced suffering and death on a cross to make atonement for our sins and journeyed through the dark night of death to emerge victorious over the power of sin and death – all for our sakes!
This is not what any of us would have imagined that God would do. Certainly not Peter! That is why the story ends with Jesus rebuking Peter for his rebuke. Jesus scolded Peter for putting God in a box and expecting God to do things Man’s way, rather than God’s way.
The mind-blowing mission of Jesus means that we can now (if we have yet to) enter into a precious personal relationship with God Himself. But we must believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God – who He is and what He has done. Will we believe God according to His self-revelation and invite Him into our lives to be our Saviour and King? Or will we continue to reject God, trying to put Him in a box and thinking about Him in our own terms?
Written by Ben Sun
To learn more about Jesus Christ, whether you are exploring the Christian faith or you are a new believer or you have walked with Jesus for some years, do check out the following resources. May God bless you in your journey ahead.
“The Choice!”, by Rev Dr Chua Chung Kai: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/1559
“The Three Ironies of the Cross”, by Rev Edmund Chan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wIG3BfL0gM
“The Power of the Cross”, by Rev Dr Gordon Wong: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/32
“A Radical Revelation of the Cross: The Sovereignty of God and the Sacrifice of Jesus”, by Dr John Piper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2c3i7vVlhw
“Why the Cross Matters”, by Chris Tomlinson: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-the-cross-matters/
(Businessman and writer Chris Tomlinson explains why it is at the Cross that we see God most clearly.)
“Bonhoeffer: Discipleship and the Cross”, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: https://www.olivetree.com/blog/bonhoeffer-discipleship-and-the-cross/
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor who spoke out against the Nazi regime during World War II. This article contains some of his thoughts on how following Jesus is connected with the suffering of Jesus.)
“The Suffering Servant and Isaiah 53”, by Matt Smethurst: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-suffering-servant-and-isaiah-53-a-conversation-with-darrell-bock/
(Matt Smethurst interviews New Testament Professor Darrell Bock on the redemptive work of Jesus in the light of Isaiah 53.)
“O Mighty Cross”, performed by John Chisum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLzYiLGTntE
“The Power of the Cross”, by Keith and Kristyn Getty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcULqyoINg
“Love Ran Red”, by Chris Tomlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zev5tHjCB_s
“I Cannot Tell”, by Music Ministry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDEgli4aQDo