“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31
What success looks like very much depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
For example, if Jesus, as the Messiah, had come into this world so that he could rally the oppressed people of Judah, lead them to victory over the Roman invaders, and establish Israel as a glorious nation, supreme in the world; then you would have expected him to do things that would inspire people with patriotism and loyalty to himself as a leader. This was what the majority of Israelite people were looking for the Messiah to accomplish and Jesus was frustrating their ambitions by not being more militant and politically savvy.
But Jesus hadn’t come to set Israel up as a nation. Rather, he’d come to this world as God’s redeemer for sinful men. His purpose was to make a way for men to be forgiven for their rebellion and to give his disciples an experience with God that could be used as a witness to convince others to want to accept the redemption offered.
Jesus, from his study of scripture and his personal connection with the Holy Spirit, understood the kind of life path he was being called to walk but his disciples didn’t understand. Their expectations of the Messiah were basically the same as the rest of Israel. And it’s not surprising that they reacted with dismay and anger when he told them what he did in our focus text today. Peter even took Jesus aside and rebuked him for saying such things.
But Jesus wasn’t looking for approval from his disciples or any other person. God was the only one he was looking to for direction and this is the course clearly set for him.
“Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Not long before Peter had been praised for his confident proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah. Now he’s strongly rebuked. I guess getting one important thing right doesn’t mean that you’ve become the smartest man in the world. The lesson we need to learn is that when listening and watching Jesus has led us to one right answer then it’s time to listen and watch some more so that we can understand everything better.