Lord Jesus, we thank You for the way of Your cross. Give us grace to follow You. Amen.
Text: Matthew 16:21–23
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
The path Jesus traveled was so dangerous and difficult that no one else would be able to do it. The devil opposed Him all the way and laid his snares before Him, where they might be least expected. When the Savior in confident and gentle love prepares the disciples for His suffering, then the devil is there and uses Peter’s zeal, which was still too earthly, as a poison arrow for the Lord. He tempts Jesus to leave the obedient path of suffering. Here on earth we can hardly imagine what an enormous trick of deception the liar used against Jesus! And how painfully the Lord felt all our trouble and weakness! No one must imagine that it was easy for Him because He had such strong shoulders. “He poured out His soul unto death” (Isa 53:12) – what does that mean? He truly suffered. He suffered incredible pain. He felt our need and “tasted death for us all” (Heb 2:9). He had the purest soul and the purest body, the deepest and strongest loathing for death and the fullest feeling of its pain. No one was by nature so foreign to suffering as He, and no one had as much of it as He. No one hated death as much as He, but no one went so perfectly willingly to death as He.
Now the victory is won, the devil’s power is crushed, and the way of the cross lies ready for us leading straight to the open gates of heaven. For Him everything was closed, everything dark, and friends and enemies were His tempters. For Him the cross was a curse, and death was pure death. For us, on the other hand, the door is opened, the light is kindled, and death is changed into life. But the path of self-denial He journeyed, we also ought to take. We are baptized into His death, and our old man must die, if we are to live. Whoever will save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (Mat 16:25).
O Lord Jesus, just like Peter we are so far from understanding this. Chasten us, but do not reject us. Draw us after You. Help each of us to take up our cross and follow You, that we may save our soul. Amen.
Arise, my heart, my soul and mind
To fasting, weeping, crying!
For soon upon us we shall find
The days of Jesus’ sighing!
He suffered so, the Righteous One,
For all our own unrighteousness
And our deserved damnation.
For us He willingly did give
Himself as off’ring surely
That we with God for aye may live,
Be reconciled securely,
That soul and body both may be
God’s holy temple living,
When we in Jesus’ faith shall stand
And give account before Thee.
Kingo: Op, Hjerte, Hu, op, Sjæl og Sind L 264:1-2 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Durch Adams Fall (ELH 430)