Bible Book: Matthew / Matteus
Chapter: 16
Verse: 21
Verse (to): 28

Matthew 16:21-28

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah is still ringing in the ears of the disciples when they hear the shocking announcement that Jesus will suffer and be killed (verse 21). For Peter this is simply too much. Jesus must be mistaken. He has to stop Jesus while there is still time (verse 22).
Peter is obviously expecting a Messiah who will bring the kingdom of God in primarily earthly and political terms. Rejection by Israel’s official leadership, defeat and death are not on his agenda. Peter is a child of his time and his expectations and outlook have been formed by the community in which he lives. Israel is expecting a Messiah who will sit on the throne of King David and so does he.
It is easy to regard Peter’s response to the announcement that Jesus is going to suffer as mere short-sightedness and think: He should have known that the servant of the Lord will have to suffer. He should have known that the way to glory is the road of humiliation.
The question that concerns me, however, is: are we doing any better than Peter? What are our ideas about the church as the body of Christ? What are our reactions when a brother or sister in Christ is rejected or is suffering? Why do some find it difficult or embarrassing to acknowledge that their sisters and brothers are living with HIV?
Jesus rebukes Peter for trying to stop Him on his way to the cross (verse 23), then turns to his followers to explain to them that real life is to be found in identifying with the suffering Christ (verse 24). To follow Jesus means to deny yourself and to take up your cross. The surprising part of this summons – taking up your cross and being willing to lose your life – is that it is about finding the real meaning of life (verses 25-26).
To think about (or discuss): What does “follow Jesus, deny yourself and take up your cross” mean in the context of the HIV pandemic?
Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English