Matthew 16:21–28; Mark 14:32–42 (read online ⧉)
Peter was concerned about the kingdom here on earth, not the kingdom that Jesus was ushering in. Jesus would have nothing to do with that thinking. Jesus chose the will of God the Father over his earthly will. It’s not as if the human side of Jesus wasn’t tempted. Remember, Jesus was tempted in all ways.
It is not accidental that a few short verses later that Jesus spoke about his disciples (e.g., Peter) having to deny themselves for the cross. By invoking the cross, it isn’t the pretty crosses many of us wear. It was the ugly cross. You died in misery, publicly, naked, and it started with you carrying the very thing upon which you died. It was shameful and for rebels. That was merely the Roman side. For the Jews, a person who died on a tree was cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22–23).
Therefore, Jesus tying the cross to discipleship must have come as quite a shock. Jesus was all but promising that his “true” followers would have to willingly pick up their own means of execution and shame, and be cursed. The disciples found that encouraging…right?
When we gloss over the cross when we read about losing lives then gaining, we can miss the significance of what it means. It isn’t just about the cross. It isn’t just about the humiliation. It isn’t just about the curse.
It’s about submission.
Submission is a hard word, especially for many Americans who value their individual liberties. Submission, or the lack thereof, may be why we are seeing what we are seeing right now. This is not about the submission of one skin color to another. This is not about the submission of one culture to another (though there is a bit of that). This is certainly not about submission to the government (though there is a Christian response to that).
This is about submission to Jesus Christ and then mutual loving submission to fellow believers in and followers of Jesus Christ.
How this is to be practiced is hard. It’s really hard to figure out, especially with the focus on individuality and individual liberty that the United States (and Western Culture as a whole) is so obsessed with. We often view our submission as if the “other” person wins and we lose. That isn’t Jesus’ way.
When we lose, we win. When we submit in Christian love and mutual Christian submission, we submit to Jesus Christ, who submitted to us, by dying for our sin.
Jesus, as we look to you as our example, help us to surrender ourselves to your authority. As we submit, help our hearts know that the person we submit to already died for us that we might be whole. Amen.
1) As a Christian, who might you have to submit to in Christian love and humility?
2) Can a “worldly” Christian submit to others?
3) While submitting to Christians should be (relatively) easy, why is it so hard? What about submitting to people of the world?