What Are Your Concerns?
Jesus had just finished informing his disciples of what was to come – that He “must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31 NKJV)
What was the reaction? Peter, the ever expressive and impulsive disciple, actually takes Him aside and rebukes Him. As an aside, I wondered why Peter did this. He had just declared Jesus to be the Messiah but I guess in his understanding, these things Jesus said He would be experiencing (especially the dying) didn’t fit into the picture. How often do we, in our own way, rebuke our Lord when He makes known to us His will for us or for others that doesn’t fit in with what we imagine it should be.
So, what does Jesus do? He, in turn, rebukes Peter.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
(Mark 8:33 NIV)
Let me share a couple of other translations of the latter part of this verse:
“…For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (NKJV)
“…For you do not have a mind intent on promoting what God wills, but what pleases men [you are not on God’s side, but that of men].” (MSG)
I don’t know about anyone else but these words make me ask myself which concerns I have in mind for the most part – the concerns of God or the concerns of men.
If we look at the circumstances that brought about this rebuke from Jesus, we see that He had just outlined God’s will – his plan – but that plan or will was not acceptable to Peter. I don’t imagine it was acceptable to any of the other disciples but Peter was the one who would say what he thought as he thought it. So, God has His plans that He is working out at each point in time, in and through each one of us. From Jesus’ words, we can see that what He would want of us is to have our minds fixed on the things that concern God – His kingdom. Sadly, most of us are too preoccupied with the things that concern men – the material comforts of this earthly life and surviving (or even thriving) in this temporal world.
It’s very easy to get thus preoccupied, I can testify. There are legitimate needs to be met and it’s easy to wake up each day thinking about and pursuing the meeting of these needs and go to bed in the same frame of mind. It takes a conscious effort to heed the word of God that says,
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
(Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV)
If we read through the bible all the way to the last book of Revelation, we can see that God is carrying out an agenda for His kingdom and that is His chief concern. We are of value to Him insofar as we align ourselves with His agenda and are fruitful branches of the vine that is Christ and our fruitfulness is for His glory, not for ours (John 15:1-8). As the loving Father that He is, He will meet our needs which He sees clearly and knows of even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8) but He requires that we make His concerns our concerns.
Here’s what we need to do, God helping us:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
(Colossians 3:1-2 NKJV)
Let’s make the kingdom of God and His agenda our priority.
Let’s ask Him to help us see the happenings around us through His eyes so we can take the position He wants us to take in agreement with His will rather than reacting like the world is reacting in word and deed.
Let’s pick up our cross daily – die to our own desires and agendas – and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
With men, this might seem impossible but with God, all things are possible…..especially since He has said we should live this way.