Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
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.”
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Jesus’s way was the way of the cross, and that holds true for us today. It’s not the way of the power of this world, legitimate as that might be in its place. It is not. And when Christians act like it is, they are doing precisely the same thing Peter did when he told the Lord that he would never go to the cross. As far as the Lord is concerned, it’s either this way, or no way at all.
Brought forward to today, that means that the offense of the cross remains, not just in our message of Christ, but in how we live. Do we love our enemies? Do we challenge what is contrary to the way of the cross? We won’t get any reward for being nice in this life in following Jesus. To love others, and to love good, also means to be in opposition to all that stands in the way of that. In ourselves and others. In and through Jesus.