At the risk of sounding too depressing, I would like to focus a bit on how bad people are. This is in response to the response of many regarding the recent school shooting in Florida. What should be done with guns, with people, etc.?
At times like this it is a good reminder that we really need God’s Word to tell us how bad we REALLY are. We can gauge how bad we are, based on our feelings. We can gauge how bad we are, based on our actions—whether in ‘thought, word, or deed’. But the scriptures tell us that it is even worse than what we think.
In the Gospel text for this Sunday, Jesus says to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan (Mark 8:33)!’ Initially, that does not strike me as being too nice, Jesus calling one of his disciples Satan. But Jesus knew how evil the world was. And he knew what he was talking about was important; Jesus had just given his first prediction of what would be coming with his Passion, death, and resurrection. This is critical, life-saving stuff.
I would imagine that, since many people do not believe in God, they also do not believe in Satan. They do not think that there is someone out there who would delight in the destruction of all humankind.
Obviously keeping some guns tucked away for emergencies is not going to solve this problem. A much bigger solution is needed.
I would propose that the solution which this gospel account proposes is even much bigger than Jesus. The early Christians had heard some initial stories about Jesus, the so-called ‘Son of God’, and immediately their minds could have jumped to the conclusion that they would be helped out of their situation, their persecutions.
On this very night (February 24, 2018), at 6 pm, the Colosseum in Rome will be lit in red to remember the Christians who are being persecuted around the world, but especially in Syria and Iraq (the photos of this are amazing). That is, admittedly, a nice response to the situation.
Jesus, in his response to Peter, says that ‘whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake AND THE GOSPEL’S will save it (Mark 8:35).’ I used capitals for the phrase ‘and the gospel’s’ because that does not appear in the other accounts (cf. Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24).
Christianity is not just ‘me and Jesus’. For one thing, we should remember that the devil is out there and that he is totally against us. More importantly, this is not just about having Jesus on our side. The word ‘gospel’ encompasses the huge plan of salvation that God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has for his people.
We needed a Savior, and his death on the cross in our place is at the heart of this gospel, this good news, that has come to us.