The Second Sunday in Lent
Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:31-38
Jesus is a realist. He knows the ways of the world, and he knows the ways of God. He refuses to deny either reality.
Peter is also mindful of both – somewhat. As do many of us – and maybe all of us at times in our own lives – Peter wishes to ignore the inevitable collision between the two. In this exchange with the Master, he opts for the comfort of encouragement over agreement with Jesus’ conclusion of the inevitable. In his immediate and definite response, Jesus compares Peter to Satan.
Who is Satan? We meet him in the first chapter of this Gospel. Satan is the tempter of Jesus. Satan’s chief goal is temptation … to forsake the truth of God’s reign in order to achieve earthly status and comfort.
In this brief encounter, we witness the intensity of Jesus’ harsh retort to Peter, a harshness perhaps born of the power of temptation upon Jesus to claim the comfort of his own immediate human worldly wishes.
We are thus enabled by the Son of God to come to ourselves as we really are at this moment. Through God’s loving acceptance and parental-like strength, we are then invited to confront the challenges of our own lives with an outstretched hand to God’s hand, leading each of us home, again and again.
The power of this faith increases in us as we come to our God continually with our faith, hope and love. This life is why we strive especially in this season to keep a holy Lent.
O God, whose glory is always to have mercy, bring us again and again to embrace and ever hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Bill Wood
Saint David’s Church, Radnor