“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view and not from God’s”*. Sitting in a cold dark cell, his ankles chained to the angry stone wall, he pondered these words. The same confusion and embarrassment filled him, as it did that day so very long ago.
Peter had wondered how a statement like this could come out of Jesus’ mouth so quickly after Jesus had praised him. “Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the powers of hell with not conquer it”**. Hadn’t Peter been so proud at that moment? He smiled in remembrance, massaging his aching back with his hands.
Peter had felt that he was right in rebuking Jesus when He spoke about His death. All the disciples had such great hope for their Leader. At a time when Israel was under the dictatorship of Rome, they were in desperate need of a hero who would lead them to political freedom, and Jesus had proved Himself perfect for that role. It was crazy that Jesus was speaking about His passing at a time like this, and Peter told Him so. Jesus had rebuked him.
He jumped. A loud scream came from a distant room. The sound lingered in the air. Peter set his back uneasily against the chamber wall, returning to his thoughts.
Looking back, he could see the big picture. Jesus had not come to free Israel from Rome, but to liberate all humanity from sin and death. The death of Jesus on a cross was so offensive to Peter and the disciples at the time, but now it was their salvation.
Peter glanced around at his dirty cell. A small-bared window in the back showed a bright blue sky. Jesus did try to explain His purpose to His confused disciples. Peter shut his eyes, trying to recall that day on the hill.
The sun had been brightly shining overhead. They had all gathered around Jesus, eagerly expecting an explanation as to why their Master was talking about His death. Peter could almost smell the dust and sweat in the air on such a hot day. They were all silent and Jesus had opened His mouth to speak.
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?”***
Peter opened his eyes. An echo of footsteps was coming down the dark corridor. A grimy man in black robes stopped outside his cell and looked through the bars at him.
“Time for your execution!” The man placed a rusty key in the lock and the door opened with a screech.
Peter slowly rose to his feet. His soul was safe.
NLT *Matt 16:23 **Matt 16:18 ***Matt 16:24-26
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