God's interests or man's
Mark 8:11-38 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.
14 And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. 23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?”Peter answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
In today’s text it says: He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” How often do we, like Peter, think that we have a better plan than God? How often do we, thinking we are serving God, actually have our minds set on man’s interest rather than on God’s? Many of the greatest blemishes against the church’s reputation and in turn against God, were done because of zeal for the Lord. Things such as the crusades and the martyrs of the reformation were rooted in misplaced zeal for God. In John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” From a world view it did not look like Jesus won; it did not look like overcoming when He was on the cross. Yet it was through His death that He overcame and through His death that we also overcome. Peter would have stopped Jesus from fulfilling God’s plan of redemption and salvation. He had his mind set on man’s interest rather than God’s. We can easily look back and see the major events that have taken place when people, trying to help God, really had their mind set on the interests of man. What is much more difficult to see and to measure is when an individual, in matters of daily life, has their mind set on man’s interest rather than God’s. How can we measure the ripple effect throughout history of the things that have been done in man’s interest and not God’s? How can we measure the effect of things which have been left undone because people’s minds were set on the interest of man? How often do even our plans for good and our zeal for God cause us to fall short of God’s best for us and others? One of the most difficult things that we as disciples must do is to know the balance between waiting on the Lord; knowing His will and waiting too long when the Lord has called us to move.
Today’s text ends with Jesus saying: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Jesus exhortation to deny self and take up our cross is not a call to a life of denial, suffering and death, some would wrongly believe and portray. Rather, to follow Jesus is a call to life. We are to follow Him not only to the cross, but also to the resurrection life. It is our flesh, our personal interests and the interests of man that we must allow to die. That is the key to our life of following Christ. That is the key to knowing and doing; to having our minds set on God’s interests and plans. The resurrection life we live, for Jesus sake and the sake of the gospel is the only life that really matters. In fact, the only way we save our lives is by living them for the Lord. Only when we have lost our own lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, can we truly have our minds set on the things of God. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” All that we do for God, even loving others, depends on loving Him with our whole heart, soul and mind. It depends on setting our minds on the things of God and not the things of man.
Thank You Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; the same Spirit that was the power behind the Word of God at creation and the same Spirit that was the power of the resurrection. Thank You for Your word in Romans 8:11 which says: If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. As I daily deny myself and the interests of man, may Your Spirit rise up in me causing me to live for You and do Your will. May I know and do the interests of God and follow Christ. Amen.