From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘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.’
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’ (Matthew 16.21-28)
What would they do? They had travelled with him for three years. They’d left everything they had, just dropped what they had – literally in some cases – and followed him. And it had been fantastic – not easy – but fantastic. The things they had seen, the things that they had heard. Their life had taken such new turns. It was simply amazing and the effect on the people they met, the people who crowded round them and Jesus whenever they entered a town or a village, was amazing as well. They had seen the paralysed get up and walk; they had seen the blind recover their sight, the deaf their hearing and they had even seen the dead raised to life.
Deep down they knew that it couldn’t go on like this for ever. After all they were exhausted – they needed a break. It was all right for Jesus, not needing anywhere to lay his head, but they had left homes and family and everything and a little bit of stability, well, it was attractive.
So when Jesus stuns them all by telling them that they are off to Jerusalem and that he will be killed there, well, any wonder that Peter reacted as he did. None of them knew what to say, really; none of them wanted to hear what Jesus was now saying. They weren’t sure that they had signed up for this; it felt as though the rules of the game had suddenly changed.
But … as Peter had once said in a calmer moment, ‘To whom Lord can we go? You have the message of eternal life.’
Not all invitations are welcome and not all tasks fill us with joy. It may be that it seems as though we have a choice but in fact there is no choice and we just have to accept where it is we have to go. Do we agree in a grudging way to the inevitable or accept the invitation with joy?
I know there are things I have to do today
that I would rather not do.
May I do them
filled with grace.