From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:21-26, NRSV)

ὀπίσω μου. Literally, this means get behind me.

When Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus rebuked him. Peter did not understand the plan and what needed to happen, and so tried to force his plan on God. To quote the beginning of the movie, My Sister’s Keeper, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!”

You see Jesus tells all of us to come along with Him, but he also says ὀπίσω μου. We need to know our place with Jesus, He is our friend and our brother, but he is also our Lord and our Master, and we need to see the back of His head when we are following Him.

So are you ready to give you our plans and ὀπίσω μου?

His eye is on the sparrow, quilt made by Judy Hand Pitts.

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:24-39, NRSV)

What do we want in life?

There are many times we will not speak the truth because we want peace.

Other times we stand up for what we know is right and we speak the truth in love and are met with a troubled response. The serene peaceful come back we expected did not happen. And in the words of Angie Thomas, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Things still go wrong because we can not bear the truth sometimes. We can not let go of the past and move into the reality that God is calling us into.

This sword that Jesus says He is bringing is not one we are yielding out of spite, it is one that is yielded out of love, because people are laying down their lives and following after Jesus and others can not see the love that Jesus has for them. They are put against those they loved because they do not see as their loved one sees. They do not comprehend as their loved one comprehends. And there for there is not peace. There is anger and hurt. But this is not a reason to stop with the truth.

So be diligent in speaking the truth and know that in time God’s peace will come.

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100, NRSV)

Come into the presence of the Lord singing!

Make music before the Lord, let us worship Him with gladness and make a joyful noise!

Give thanks always to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever!

He will always be faithful to His promises and we should bless His name!

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, NRSV)

We give thanks for all of our brothers and sisters because we were all brought up from the same place, out of sin, by the grace of God.

Remember what you have learned and show the love that God has given you. For we were once dead, but have been made alive by the grace of God. And know that God will comfort you and strengthen you in every good work until His mission is complete. His new robe will help to protect you from the evil one and keep you covered in Him. Embrace your life in Christ!

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, NRSV)

Sometimes we need a reminder. Here Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica to discover how they were doing.

Sometimes we are tempted and we need a friend to help us back to the following of the shepherd.

Remember even Jesus was tempted by the devil after his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. We will not escape it, but help is always there.

They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’ So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. (Exodus 19:2-8, NRSV)

Moses went up to God on the mountain and when he came back down, he reported to all the elders what the Lord had spoken to him.

Moses reported the words of the Lord to the people, and they listened to him.

They went to the mountain and heard from God.

Let us go to the mountain, and learn from God and follow what He commands us.

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’ The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ (Luke 10:1-20, NRSV)

Jesus sent many people out in pairs to share the good news.

He sent them out into the harvest, just as He sends you.

You will be met with opposition, but take heart because Jesus is always with you. And it is not your place to convert, only to plant seeds or water. God will bring the growth.

So go into the world and share the good news!