DayBreaks for 8/27/14 – Devotees of the Easy Way
There is a story about a young man, eager to make it to the top, who went to a well-known millionaire businessman and asked him the first reason for his success. The businessman answered without hesitation, “Hard work.” After a lengthy pause the young man asked, “What is the SECOND reason?”
Matthew 16:21-25 (NLT) From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. 22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Today, I want to think about the lure of the easy way. Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi. Their ministry to this point had been a stunning success. Crowds pressed in on them everywhere they went. People eagerly reached out to touch this attractive young teacher from Nazareth. The disciples themselves were caught up in the excitement of it all. Jesus asked them, “Who do you say I am?” and Simon Peter answered enthusiastically, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” It was one of the most dramatic moments in the disciples’ pilgrimage with Jesus.
Then Jesus abruptly changed the subject. He began to tell them that the crowds would soon turn against Him; He would be crucified, on the third day he would be raised. The disciples didn’t know what to make of all this. Simon Peter took Jesus aside: “Forbid it, Lord, that these things should happen to you.” Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is as harsh as any words in the New Testament: Get behind me Satan! You are not on the side of God but of man.
Perhaps Jesus called Simon Peter ‘Satan’ because of Jesus’ experience in the wilderness immediately after His baptism by John. In today’s parlance, it was there that Satan revealed to Jesus the way to make a million dollars in three easy steps turn stones to bread, leap off the pinnacle of the temple, “Bow down and worship me!” I see Satan not as a red caped figure with a pitchfork but dressed in a $1000 suit and offering in a glib and polished tongue instant success, instant glamour, instant gratification. We can see Satan almost anywhere today. Jesus encountered him this time in Simon Peter: Forbid it, Lord, that you should have to suffer and die.
If there is any doubt that Jesus is resisting the lure of the easy way, listen to the words that follow: If any man would be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
What way are you pursuing in your life? How can you change today?
PRAYER: Jesus, I know that I almost always seek the easy way, and that the easy way is very seldom Your way. May I be more like You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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