31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
To understand the importance of what Jesus meant, we must observe well the language he used: “must” (v. 31). But why was it necessary?
The death of Jesus was part of the divine plan for the establishment of his kingdom. Not because death could not be avoided, but because he had to create awareness in men.
Peter had decided to follow Jesus and believe in what he said, but his idea of a messiah was very different from the one in front of him. He had not understood anything yet. His hope for a new kingdom, one of liberation from the Romans, confused his senses. In response, Jesus turned and reprimanded him strongly, recognizing where the attack was coming from.
The Jews had not considered the problem of sin in the human being, but the Lord knew that it was not possible to implant the great principles of his kingdom in unregenerate hearts. There was no other way to bring about the kingdom except through his death and resurrection.
The Lord Jesus continues to call us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. During Lent, not only do we stop eating sweets or dedicate ourselves more to devotional reading, but we commit to true discipleship.
Discipleship means taking up our cross and serving people in need, orphans, people without food, people without shelter, and people who are persecuted because of their race. Being Christ’s disciples means dying to what the world offers and proclaiming him as our Lord.
Prayer: Lord, do not let us fall into the temptation of thinking that leaving our comfort zone makes us your disciples. Only the sacrifice of Jesus can do it. Amen.
Martha Amaro is a Christian educator serving in partnership with the National Presbyterian Church in Mexico, along with her husband, Jaime, since 2001. They train leaders nationwide to facilitate the Children and Worship Program and develop children’s clubs to spread the good news of Jesus.