It’s rather amazing how we can answer, a question, while still be somewhat off base with what the answer actually means. Two verses after correctly answering Jesus’ question about who he is, correctly stating that “Jesus is the Messiah”, Jesus is calling Peter ‘Satan’, stating that he does not have the things of God in mind. He rather is focused on the things of this world. This comes after Jesus lays out that he is the suffering servant, that he’ll be put to death, not by the wretched, but by the religious. As commentator James Edwards points out it is not humanity at its worst that will crucify the Son of God, but humanity at its absolute best.
For Peter, the idea of a Messiah was very attractive, but a suffering servant not so much. Like the blind man, healed just before this, things were still slightly fuzzy and unclear for Peter. While many, perhaps along with Peter, were hoping for the Messiah to come and liberate them from the Romans, Jesus simply tells them I’ve come to die, and if you want to follow me, you are called to die as well. That is the calling of the Christian life, of what it means to be a disciple. It is a call to die.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, ‘every command of Jesus is a call to die’.
Which leaves us with one question, well perhaps two. Do we have an accurate view of discipleship, that to be a follower of Christ is a call to die? And if so, to which command of Jesus, or perhaps to which of his words, do I need to submit and die? Though it might sound fearful, Jesus actually declares that it is here, that we’ll find our life. He asks ‘what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life?’ The call to die is actually an invitation to life!
May you experience the joy of dying to self, in order that you might understand the fullness of life! As Paul said, ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain!’
~Pastor Al Letkeman
Nassau Street Church, Winnipeg, Man.