Course Ahead

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being of full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2)

Smack dab between confessing Jesus as the Messiah and witnessing Christ’s spectacular Transfiguration, Peter treats the Lord as if he is a naughty schoolboy talking out of turn.

Knowing the horrific future in store for him in Jerusalem, Christ begins to prepare his disciples for the onslaught ahead. Because he clearly understands the agony he will have to endure and the ramifications for his followers, Jesus confides in them. Peter does not like the direction Christ is going and scolds him, reprimanding him for daring to utter such nonsensical thoughts about suffering and death.

Simon Peter’s words sting Christ like a whip, and he confronts the disciple with startling force. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (Matthew 16:23). In a grand summary of Peter’s misguided focus, Christ continues to slice through to the source of his friend’s faulty words. “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

That phrase illuminates our own thought processes at times. Whenever we misunderstand Christ’s actions, when we scold him for not lining up circumstances to our liking, we mimic Peter. When we want to chastise the Lord for our sufferings or for allowing conflicting scenarios in our lives, we are imitating the fisherman’s foolishness.

Christ lays out truth and does not ask the disciples to agree with it, understand it, or alter it. He presents it to them as a friend shares intimate details of his life and as the Savior fully aware of the course ahead. It’s as if he says to them, “Suffering is bearing down the track toward me and it will soon crush me completely, extinguishing my very life. But, wait. I want to make certain you understand that this is not the end. Be of good cheer. I will rise again.”

The risen Savior will always provide the best strategy for the road ahead. May we trust him to direct our course and may we follow his leading to “set our minds” on the things of God and not on the things of man.

Elizabeth A. Mitchell

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