Get behind me Satan! MARK 8:27–35
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus putting two questions to His disciples, “Who do people say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?”. Jesus’ real focus however, seems to be on the second question, “Who do you say I am?”.
Jesus reveals that He was not so much concerned about recognition from the crowds, as He was concerned about what His disciples thought. He wanted to know that the people to whom He was entrusting His life and mission, had a firm grip on whom He was, and what His mission was in the world.
I am sure that many of us can relate to this desire of Jesus. We want to know that those who are close to us know us, understand us, and that they understand and accept God’s call on our lives. It is important to know what they think, but today Jesus challenges us to something much deeper in this area of our lives.
As the story continues, Jesus teaches the Disciples that He is the Christ, the Suffering Servant that Isaiah prophesied about (Is 49 and 53), and because of this He would have to suffer, be rejected, and condemned to death in carrying out the mission He was sent to do.
Peter however, has other ideas about what it meant to be the Christ. He did not want Jesus to suffer and die, and it is in that moment Jesus chose to put aside the opinion of His friend for the will of the Father.
It is Jesus’ clarity about whom He was and His mission that allowed Him to stay focused and not even let His closest friends distract Him. “Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”
‘Satan’ is a Hebrew word which means accuser, the one who leads others away from the way to God. It is important then to know that even those close to us can be a Satan on our journey, when they do not recognise who we really are and what God is asking of us.
Many times, we may know God wants us to be different and that He calls us to do something radical but instead of saying “get behind me Satan”, we give in to the opinions of others. We end up living our lives fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of others while we struggle with dissatisfaction and unfulfilled lives because we are not being who we are supposed to be and doing what brings God pleasure.
Friends, the way of Jesus is not easy; it demands that we are willing to follow even when others don’t agree.
What is God asking of you right now? It may be something to do differently at work, or in your relationships, or even to respond to a call to the priesthood or religious life. To whom are you listening? The Satans around you or the Lord?
Jesus shows us that what God wants of us is of more importance than what others will think or of what they will approve. He makes it clear that our call is to discipleship. And to be His disciples, to be His followers is the way of the cross! Others may not agree, but if God is asking something of you, it will always be the best thing for your life, so don’t be afraid to declare “get behind me Satan!”.
Lord Jesus, may we come to accept and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who invites us to relationship, to discipleship. Help us to be disciples who will be single-minded in doing your will, that daily we will take up our crosses and follow you, even when the voices closest to us may not agree. Amen!
The Gospel Meditations for September are by Fr Raymond Francis, Assistant Parish Priest at Sangre Grande/Toco/Matelot and Coryal.