In last week’s Gospel’s reading Jesus called Peter “his rock”, this week, he calls him a tempter & asks him to leave. Peter has taken Jesus aside & tried to tell him what to do. So what happened? The answer is that Jesus confronted his disciples with the fact of the cross. Matthew says “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem & to suffer greatly there at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and be killed.”
Now we can understand the shift in mood, the cross is the most challenging truth about the Christian Faith. It shows us the utter seriousness of sin, displaying vividly what sin can do to people, what it did to those who crucified Jesus, how sin so twisted their souls that they could engage inn such brutality. It shows what sin does to the Lord, how our rebellion can distance us from the Lord and cause pain to the very heart of God. The cross shows us that the veil of sin is real, as real as the wood on the cross, what it did to Jesus’ body, it does to every human life it touches. When we trivialise sin or make a joke of it, the cross reminds us of the seriousness of sin.
The cross also shows us that true love is sacrificial. A married couple promise to love each other like that, Priests promise to love the Lord & his church like that; and as Christians we are called to love each other like that. The cross reminds us that true love is defined not by how we feel, but by what we give. Is our love like that we see on the cross?
It is one thing to look at a crucifix and meditate on Christ’s love for us, it is another thing to confront the crosses in our own life. Like Peter, we don’t want the confrontation. Do we deny it, rebel against it, kick it or curse it? Or do we take it up & follow the Lord with it, & in doing so come to spiritual maturity? Be it emotional, financial or personal, our cross is our way to life, an honest, real life, an eternal life.
The cross teaches us the truth that sin damages everything it touches. It teaches us that true love is sacrificial, it teaches us the truth about discipleship, that to follow Christ is to follow him not in spite of the cross we have, but through it.