You can see all the lectionary readings for the Proper 17, Year A by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus tells his disciples that he has to go to Jerusalem, where he will suffer and be killed, then he will rise from the dead. Wow, can you imagine how that came across? How do you think you would have reacted to that? Well, we know Peter’s reaction: “God save you from those sufferings, Lord! That will never happen to you!”
Jesus rebukes him harshly, “Get away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the same things God does. You care only about things that people think are important.” (These quotes are from the Easy-to-Read version here.) Ouch, he called him Satan! I don’t think Jesus was implying Peter was literally possessed by Satan or anything, but more that he is speaking against God and what God wants at this moment. Remember that just last week we read about Peter being called the Rock on which the church will be built. What a change to this story! It happens to all of us–faithful and loving one time, failing and wrong another time. Meanwhile he just wants Jesus to not die, which doesn’t seem so awful to our human eyes. It seems Peter understand Jesus was the Messiah, but not all that might mean.
Jesus goes on to say the following:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For 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?
I love it when Jesus speaks in paradoxes. Maybe that’s weird of me. Lose your life to save it. Amazing. What does this mean to you? What are you giving of yourself today? How are you following Jesus?