He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Mark 8:31-33
Jesus taught his disciples about suffering and rejection! This is a revelation to me. Yes, I know Jesus said that we’d have many troubles in this world, I know he even mentions future persecutions for us, but we tend to think of the non-suffering passages of Jesus, the yoke is easy and burden is light ones.
It seems appropriate on Easter weekend to study this passage. Today is Holy Saturday. It is a remembrance of the day of in between, the day when Jesus was dead. For the early disciples, it was a day when all hope was lost, a day of uncertainty and sadness.
Oh, that place of in between. I do not like it! That place between my prayers and the answers. The place where it doesn’t seem like Jesus is alive and active. The place where my hopes can be lost.
Right now I am yearning to convert just one married couple. I’ve been praying about it for years. I’ve been trying to build relationships. I’ve studied the Bible with my friends. But I am in the place of in between. And I feel powerless. It’s hard to envision that I am really going to get to the place where we study with and baptize married couples.
So it’s good to study out that suffering is necessary. I can’t help but think that if something isn’t going smoothly, something is wrong.
But with God, it’s not that something is wrong, it just isn’t time yet.
On that Saturday when Jesus was in the tomb, it wasn’t that something was going wrong. It wasn’t time for Jesus to rise yet. But resurrection Sunday WAS coming.
Jesus had to suffer MANY things. I’ve got to stop thinking that there is a system breakdown when I face challenges. There is NOT! Facing challenges is a part of the process.
And Jesus faced his challenges head on. He resolutely set out for Jerusalem to confront them. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter yet he did not open his mouth.
And Jesus taught others about the necessity of suffering. Peter was aghast. The KING, the Messiah, suffering? That would be seriously wack!
But it wasn’t wack, it was part of God’s plan.
We need to help others see that suffering isn’t this sign that everything is going wrong. I was talking to a sister yesterday and she has MANY sufferings right now, many things that are challenging. She feels overwhelmed. My job is to help her see that it’s going to be okay, that she can make it through this “Saturday” to the miraculous deliverance of “Sunday.”
So what is necessary? Having in mind the concerns of God. Literally, we should have the “phroneo,” the understanding and thinking of God.
It’s like this passage in Phil. 2:
Have this MIND among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. . .
Have the mind that we are not to be great, but humbled; that we are not to be served, but to serve; that we will stay the course and be subservient to God no matter what.
Have the mind that we do this for God, we do it for others — it is a caring, communal thing.
And then, humbling ourselves is like Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. We are in a state of nothingness, and GOD raises us up! The astounding answer, the thing we need, WILL come!
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Hab 2:3