Second Sunday in Lent
 And he 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.  And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." Mark 8:31-33 (ESV)
Get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. I think it is fair to say that Peter just wanted what he thought was best for Jesus. Here Jesus is talking about being rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, being killed, and after three days rise again. Talking about suffering. The son of Man must! Must! He has to suffer. He has to be rejected. He has to be killed, and He has to rise again on the third day.
Peter doesn’t know what to do, what to say. He doesn’t want Jesus to suffer. Don’t go down to Jerusalem. Just don’t go pick that fight. “Come on now, Jesus.” I think everyone of us here would probably do the same for our friend. That is try to talk him out of it. Don’t go down there. It is like watching a friend fall into depression, and start talking about suicide. We try to talk them out of it.
Mark tells us that Peter was rebuking Jesus. Rebuking Him. And what isn’t there to rebuke. Jesus is talking like a mad man. He refers to Himself in the third person as the Son of Man. Starts telling them He has to suffer, be rejected, and killed. Well now that doesn’t sit well with anyone’s picture of the Messiah. He is supposed to come in and be some great king, rule from David’s throne! Even today this picture of the messiah who had to suffer, be rejected and die, is rejected by many who call themselves Christians, millennialist, who seem to think the cross was plan b. That Jesus really meant to usher in the last days and a millennial kingdom full of peace and prosperity for the saints on earth, and a putting down by force of all evil. The cross? What good is that? Seriously there are churches out there that see no need for the cross. Non-denominational churches routinely take them down, because they cause offence. Others spend all their time talking about the Holy Spirit and glory and all that speaking in tongues. They don’t see much need for the cross either. There are people who have gone to church their whole lives, and never heard of it. It just isn’t central to who they are. But it was central to Christ. And so it is central to every Christian, because when we believe in Christ, we pick up a cross, and we follow Him. Faith lays a cross across your back. Peter didn’t understand all that. Much less did he understand all this talk about rising on the third day. Now that is just crazy man talk.
Who rises from the dead. How many of you would believe your friend if he said he was going to shoot himself, so that he could come back from the dead in three days?
So many people think Jesus was a great teacher. Peter was beginning to have his doubts. Oh people came and listened to Him. He could still pack a house if He wanted to. But Peter was beginning to have his doubts about Jesus, and what a great rabbi this man was. I Can see Peter now, “All that stuff about the good Samaritan, turn the other cheek, blessed are the peace makers. All that was great stuff ,Jesus. Why don’t you concentrate on teaching us that. I can hear Peter saying it now. But really you got to drop all this stuff about suffering, rejection, being killed, listen your not coming back from the grave. It doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t a Nintendo game, you don’t get a second chance. You don’t get to reboot. Just keep teaching us to be good.” O.k so he might not have said anything about Nintendo games, but that is almost certainly what Peter is thinking.
I say that because these are the things of man. Man wants Jesus to be a great teacher. But as C.S Lewis points out, great teachers don’t claim to be God, lunatics claim to be God. Either he is who he says he is, or he is a lying lunatic. Either Jesus is God or he is a lunatic. And right now Peter is betting on lunatic. All this crazy talk about rising from the dead. Sane men don’t talk about coming back from the dead. Peter rebukes Christ lets get back to the blessed are the peace makers.
And that is too much of Christianity today. We don’t want to listen to Christ, when he talks about these things. We want Him to tell us how to be good, to be our moral example. Look how great He was! Love God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. That is what we want to take away from Jesus, never mind the fact that Moses said it first. The cross bit? No we don’t need that, just love and maybe the Holy Spirit, a warm fuzzy or two wouldn’t be bad either.
And Jesus responds get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men. Yes that is it. Satan wants to take Christ away from the cross. Satan wants Jesus to avoid the cross. Because the things of God are these, suffering, rejection, being killed and coming back to life. These crazy things Jesus is talking about are the things of God. And we would know that if we could actually loved God with all our soul, all our mind and all our might, as Jesus did when we could not. For God loves us. God loves our neighbors as we cannot. The things of man and the things of Satan are one. We want to avoid suffering, avoid rejection, avoid death as much as possible. But not Jesus. The Love of Jesus compels Him to go to the cross, this is the thing of God that Satan, and man would have Christ avoid.
And Christ could have if He wanted to. If salvation were of this world than undoubtedly He would have. But salvation is not of this world, but of the one to come, and so He went to the cross to die for us, in our place their. And He did this while we were yet sinners as our Epistle lesson tells us. He died for the ungodly, you and I, while we were enemies of God, Enemies. So that we would have peace with God. And on the third day He rose again from the grave. Yes, the lunatic pulled it off. He came back from the dead just as He said He would because He did have His mind on the things of God, for He is God, and always has been. He pulled it off. And because of His love, He reconciled us to God, and He gave us peace with God.
And you have that peace. Don’t get it confused with a warm fuzzy now. You can have one of those if you want. But that isn’t the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. That’s just a feeling. Peace is more than that. The peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace of God, is the fact that because His son went to the cross in your place, and laid down his life for you, God is no longer angry with you because you are the ungodly sinner and enemy of God that you are, but he is reconciled to you, no longer at war with you and wanting your life. And that is why the suffering, rejection, death and resurrection are the things of God that reconcile us to Him..
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.