The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Matthew 16: 21 – 23 (Shorter version)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus begins to foretell about his suffering and death and also his resurrection. It appears as if Jesus is just informing the disciples and he does not seem to be sad or angry about this. He does not seek sympathy or support from his disciples. He was just unafraid and is ready for the moment. This was a shocking news to Peter. He resists saying this should never happen to you. You should not suffer, why should you suffer. You have been doing only good things, you should not suffer.
Peter is reflecting the common understanding that the good people will not suffer. Being good and doing good should find favour with God and God will protect the good people from suffering. Only the bad people and wicked people should suffer.
Jesus tells him ‘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.’
For Jesus being Good is to sacrifice and suffer for the sake of others.
He further tells his disciples that if they choose to follow him they should take up their cross and deny themselves and follow him.
The cross in the time of Jesus as an instrument of condemnation for one’s wrong doing. But the cross for Jesus was an experience of suffering for other people’s sin.
It is to take up the condemnation of others on oneself that those who should suffer need not suffer.
It is also to share in the suffering and anguish of others in a real and deeper way.
This is the essence of the Christian discipleship, to deny one’s self and be willing to take up suffering so that o thers may not suffer or suffer less.