“On Your Mark”
The Suffering Servant (Chapter 8 Verses 31-33)
The great apostolic confession had been made (v29). The conviction of which will deepen further in days to come, especially after the death, resurrection and pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon these men at Pentecost. But there is something else these men have to understand, something which casts a long dark shadow over these days, they must grasp the redeeming work Jesus is going to fulfil. Jesus tells them of his death at the hands of the Jews in the plainest possible terms. These men you see must be taught correctly, there is no room for error, they are to be the foundation of the New Testament Church (Ephesians 2.20). The Jews have wanted to make him an earthly king, to rule and to roust the Romans from the boundaries of Palestine. That too was the disciples’ conception of Messiah. They were wrong. Yes they have grasped to some degree Jesus divinity, that he is the anointed Messiah, but that must not lead them to false conclusions about his ultimate mission. If they are thinking about some glorious earthly reign with carnal glossy grandeur ahead. They are wrong too (Luke 6.22-26).
There is a must clause in Jesus mission contract. These things he speaks of to his men must take place or there can be no salvation for the world (John 3.14). In the counsels of eternity the Son of God had undertaken to be the Saviour of God’s people (Acts 2.23; Revelation 13.8). There will be no backing out, the Father’s will, will be done (Matthew 26.42). And so Jesus, God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 53), will be rejected, he will be a stumbling block to Jews (1Corinthians 1.23), any thought of a crucified Messiah would be an anathema to them. But these his men must climb over this. Hence he prepares them for it. Peter is the first to balk at it (v32), but then Peter was first in everything. Little did he understand he was doing Satan’s job for him (v33). He unwittingly reproduced the same temptation the devil did in the desert, the very thing Satan had in mind. Short circuit the cross, a cross-less Saviour. Just as Jesus did in the desert with Satan, he does with Peter, he brings his heel down hard on the Serpent’s head, and crushes the temptation. Is not that the way to deal with temptation? Not even to entertain the thought, crush it in its embryonic form. Do not even think about it (James 1.13-15)! There is always an escape route (1Corinthians 10.13). But do we always want it?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)