“He rebuked Peter, and said “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”" Mark 8:33
God’s interests – A free translation of the exact phrase ta tou Theou, literally “the the(s) of God”. It’s simply the definite article (the) used twice in two different forms. But that’s not the interesting part (except for grammarians). The interesting part is that the disciples did not see the need of the cross because they did not see the things of God.
I wonder if we aren’t like the disciples. They knew that Jesus was the Son of God. In fact, Peter just proclaimed that incredible fact. They knew that Jesus brought peace, healing, power, release and spiritual insight. They knew that Jesus had the words of life. But they couldn’t see the death on the horizon. They had a faith that banked on good things to come. Tragedy was not in the picture. And as a result, they could see what interested God.
Do you remember the parable of the sower? Some seed falls by the wayside. Jesus says that the cares of this world choke that seed so that it cannot sprout and grow. That’s the contrast in this verse. God is interested in the tragedy. Men are interested in the triumph. God is prepared to sacrifice. Men are prepared to succeed. “The cares of this world”, what a telling phrase. Money, security, acknowledgement, fulfillment, comfort, peace. What’s on your list of cares? What things do you worry about?
Jesus dismissed all those whose lives are not concentrated on God’s interests. And God’s interests are not the commonsense values of this world. God relishes our weakness, our humility, our brokenness, our times of trial and desperation, our soul disturbances. Those are the points when we seek Him and what He wants most of all is our devotion.
The startling fact in this verse is that the disciples were not able to discern the things of God because their lives were occupied with the cares of this world. In fact, it is their unwillingness to entertain the requirement of sacrifice that separates them from God’s direction. They did not see because they refused suffering as a legitimate pathway of the Most High. Much later this same Peter would say, “since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (1 Peter 4:1).
Which disciple are you, the one who tells Jesus that suffering is not appropriate or the one who knows that the way of the Christ is the way of the cross?