Peter gets himself in trouble in this week’s gospel reading. He’s just saying what they are all thinking as Jesus begins to talk about rejection, suffering, and death when Jesus shuts him down. In the verses immediately before this, Peter tells Jesus that he believes Jesus to be the Messiah. Peter makes a dramatic and dangerous statement that puts him at odds with the religious and political system they were living under. He and the others likely expect the Messiah to bring political freedom and religious reform; and end to oppression and a transformation of Israel. Jesus has something else in mind.
Jesus has a wider view; a global view. The impact Jesus brings extends way beyond the boundaries of Peter’s neighborhood or nation. Jesus’ ministry and teachings, his death and resurrection, bring transformation to the entire world. Peter can only see a tiny corner of what is really happening and how everything will unfold to make all things new.
Peter, like you and me, has only a limited perspective. From our point of view, it is easy to have our minds on human things rather than divine things. As we follow Jesus, we try, again and again, to step back and see from God’s perspective. To look for ways that we can take up our cross – not taking on discomfort or suffering for its own sake, but rather to give of ourselves, making ourselves vulnerable for the sake of God’s beloved children and God’s beloved creation. We try and serve our neighbor, welcome the stranger, and forgive those who do wrong. We seek ways to help the broken, notice the forgotten, and love ones who seem unlovable. We work to bring love and justice into our own tiny corner of the world. The very world that God so loves.
Like Peter, we get it wrong sometimes. We are human, after all. It will be a life-long challenge for each of us to follow Jesus and care for the people and world around us. Yet, we take on the task, and through it we are part of the transformation that God is bringing in us, around us, and in all creation.