Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
Verse 21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Verse 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." Verse 23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
Verse 24Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Verse 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Verse 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? Verse 27"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Verse 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
When I was pregnant with our second child, a nodule was discovered on my thyroid. I was fearful that it was cancer. I shared my fears with a friend who responded, “I can’t go there.” “Well, good for you,” I thought, “I am there.”
It was such a lonely feeling that they wouldn’t? couldn’t? enter into my fear.
In today’s gospel, when Jesus shares that he must suffer and die, Peter essentially uses my friend’s line,” I can’t go there.” Peter’s focus wasn’t on Jesus, but on his own pain. His heart couldn’t handle losing his teacher. His mind couldn’t take the alteration in his understanding of Messiah, which did not include suffering and death.
How often that is how we listen—hearing how our lives will be impacted rather than entering into what is being said. Perhaps, had Peter stayed there with Jesus, he would’ve also heard: “on the third day be raised.”
You who hear even our sighs too deep for words, help us to listen in a way that others feel heard and no longer alone. Amen.