What is the way to glory and victory in the kingdom of God?
Jesus told his disciples that he must first suffer rejection, be crucified, and then rise again on the third day. In so many words he explained that there could be no victory and no glory without the cross. Jesus’ prediction of his suffering and death on the cross caused his disciples great dismay and disbelief. Peter, who was often the first to react to whatever Jesus had to say, wanted to protect Jesus from any threat or harm.
That is why he rebuked the very thought of Jesus having to face rejection, condemnation, and crucifixion.
“My way or God’s way”
Why did Jesus use the word “Satan” when he addressed Peter? When Jesus went out into the wilderness to prepare for his public ministry, Satan came to tempt him to follow a different path than the one chosen by the Father in heaven. Now Jesus recognizes in Peter’s response another temptation to seek a different and less costly path for accomplishing his mission than the way of the cross. The word “Satan” literally means “adversary” – one who stands in opposition. Jesus reminds Peter that his role is not to be an adversary but a disciple – one who gets behind his Master to follow with trust and obedience.
Victory and glory through the cross
Jesus knew that the cross was the only way he could ransom us from slavery to sin with the price of his blood which was shed for our freedom. Through his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan who held us in bondage to sin and condemnation. And Jesus defeated the power of death and overcame the grave through his resurrection. Through his obedience to his heavenly Father’s will, Jesus reversed the curse of Adam’s disobedience. His death on the cross won pardon for the guilty, freedom for the oppressed, healing for the afflicted, and new life for those condemned to death. His death makes possible our freedom to live as the adopted sons and daughters of the merciful Father in heaven.
Jesus told his disciples that they, too, must be willing to lay down their lives in order to gain new everlasting life with the Father in his kingdom. There’s a certain paradox in God’s economy. We lose what we gain, and we gain what we lose. When we try to run our life our own way, we end up losing it to futility. Only God can free us from our ignorant and sinful ways. When we surrender our lives to God, he gives us new life in his Spirit and the pledge of eternal life. God wants us to be spiritually fit and ready to do his will at all times. When the human body is very weak or ill, we make every effort to nurse it back to health.
How much more effort and attention should we give to the spiritual health of our hearts and minds!