Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering and death at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes. Peter took Jesus aside, “This must never happen to you,” he said. Surely Peter only had Jesus’ best interests at heart. Imagine how mortified he must have felt to hear Jesus reply, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
What kind of deal is it to get everything you want in life but lose your soul? So often when we finally get what we want in life, the euphoria is short lived. We might feel elated for a few days at achieving one of our closest held ambitions, but then we are left with that hollow, ‘what next?’ kind of feeling. Today Jesus is talking about the necessity for suffering and dying. But why does Jesus see accepting the cross as a necessity? Why does he not stop to consider the alternative that Peter suggests?
As Christians we are asked to live life differently from those who struggle to fill life with pleasure and enjoyment. There is a well-known saying that goes, ‘It is better to die a meaningful death, than live a meaningless life.’ As Christians we have to transcend, self-interest, self-preservation and ego trips. The person who tries to indulge in every enjoyment may find him or herself chasing impossible rainbows. Could this be Satan’s favourite trick? By trying to make life perfect by our own human agendas, are we in danger of reaching the end of life only to realise we have not lived life at all?