We choose our scandals.

Historians choose not to paint Thomas Jefferson as a slaver and a pedophile who abuses his 15 year old slave. But Bill Clinton’s lesser indiscretion is a scandal. The media today reports the scandalous ransom of Republican Congress to defund Obamacare, but the fortitude of the Democrat Congress for defunding the Vietnam War leading to America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. What is outrageous depends on our perception of what is simply not acceptable to us.

Jesus “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (Mark 8:31-32).

What Jesus said was so outrageous to Peter that he stood up to Jesus.  Peter is like a courtier in the presence of a king.  Not just any king, but the Messiah, the king who will bring in the Kingdom of God. Peter is loyal. He must tell his king what is true and good.  The plan that Jesus lays out is crazy, and it is his solemn duty to correct Jesus.

Years later, Peter recalls his struggle with the scandal of the cross. He says Jesus is “‘A stone that causes people to stumble / and a rock that makes them fall.’They stumble because they disobey the message” (1 Pe 2:8). It is so impossible to think that God’s plan is for Jesus to die on the cross in payment for our sin! It is so outrageous that the just should die for the unjust, the sinless for sinners, the good for the wicked.

The path Jesus was to take was difficult enough.  But Peter tried to discourage him from that path.  Peter, reprimanded Jesus. This was so outrageously wrong, Peter just had to oppose the plan. Now Peter’s action is so outrageously wrong that it is a scandal to Jesus.

“How can I follow you if you embark on this plan?” Peter demands of Jesus.

“And how can you follow me if you reject my plan?” Jesus demands of Peter.

This is the scandal of the cross. To all who can accept this scandal of God’s grace comes eternal life.


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