What Do You Want?
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:21-24
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus flinched from the day that lay ahead of Him. He struggled in Himself, to overcome His own will, because who in their right mind would choose to die, or to suffer humiliation and torture? Then, just before the light of day made its first faint appearance over the horizon, He won the battle and overcame the second thoughts of His own mind and went on to do what God wanted Him to do, without flinching.
Peter and all the disciples had said that they would follow Jesus to death (Matthew 26:35), but when the rooster crowed for the third time, Peter suddenly realised his own cowardice and lack of faith, in stark contrast to the evident strength of Jesus' faith, beyond belief, that enabled Him to face such abject humiliation, torture and a painful death, with such courage that He did not flinch. Not for a moment did He show the slightest doubt, denial or fear.
This is the greatest lesson that Jesus wanted us to learn from His example. This is why He went through it. To encourage us to live by our belief and faith in God and His eternal kingdom, to the point that nothing could cause us to live any other way. It's not about trying to save the world or playing holy, these too can become distractions. It's about surrendering to God's will for our own life and realising that, while everyone is different and unique, we need to allow others who believe in Him, to do the same. If everyone had the courage to truly live by faith and be who and what God wants them to be, to the extent that Jesus did and let everyone else be too, then the world would be heavenly.
"Your will be done, on earth as in Heaven" Matthew 6:10
Jesus died for us on the cross that we might have a true example that would encourage us to face the world and make the decision not to be influenced by it or live by its ways. To have the courage to accept Jesus's influence in shaping who we are and live by the way of life He truly represents. To have the bravado to ignore those who try to turn us from it because of their lack of knowledge, faith and courage and who want us to behave and think like them in order to feel that the way they think and behave is right.
There is only one way that is truly right with God. That is the true way of life that is revealed to us in the person of Jesus, the embodiment of the Christ, the spirit of life in Heaven.
God calls us to influence the world, not to be influenced by it. To not allow the doubts, disbeliefs and misconceptions of our own or others, cast a shadow that will blind and defile us.
Jesus only allowed a few people be close enough to Him to share in His influence (Matthew 13:11). He influenced the world, but He never allowed Himself to be influenced by anyone but God or those He chose to be His friends. He knows, that when you are influenced by another, you take on their characteristics. We must allow ourselves to be influenced by Him, first and foremost, in order to take on His characteristics and become like Him.
Copyright © 2014 Carl (Little John) Painter