Jesus' Timing is Always Perfect
by Elaine Pierce
The disciples spent three years sitting under Jesus' teaching. They heard him deliver the Sermon on the Mount. They saw him perform countless miracles: turning water into wine, healing the lame, the blind, the deaf. They saw him walk on water. They watched as he told the Centurion that, because of his faith, his servant was healed: Jesus didn't even need to go to his home to perform that miracle. Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, who had a high fever. They listened as he rebuked the Jewish religious leaders and called out their hypocrisy. They saw him feed thousands of people with only a few baskets of fish and bread. They watched children come to him, and they saw Jesus' kindness, his compassion and his gentle spirit. They also saw his anger as he drove the money changers from the temple.
And yet, they failed to fully grasp who he was and why he was here. When he told them that "he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (16:21), their reaction - in particular Peter's reaction - was total denial:
"Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (16:22)
We know how this story ends, so it would be easy to belittle Peter, and to think smugly that "I would never say that to Jesus." How often, though, have I failed to listen, to pray, to ask him to guide me every day? How often have I refused to do what I know is right? Peter doesn't want his beloved Rabbi to face suffering. He, like us, is thinking of how this will impact him. What will life be like without Jesus? How will we cope? What will we do? He's the most amazing Rabbi ever - surely we can't allow this to happen!
Jesus responds sternly to Peter, and to us. He reminds Peter that his earthly death is only part of the story. Read these words of assurance and meditate on the good gifts God has planned for those of us who come to Jesus, deny ourselves and take up his cross and follow him:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." (16:27)
Jesus' story doesn't end with death on the cross. He will come again with angels! It will be amazing, glorious, and beyond our wildest imaginings. We have only to trust him, and not rush to act without first kneeling at his feet. Be sure to read Chapter 17:1-3 for a foretaste of what this glory will be like. The Book of Revelation contains imagery of an everlasting heaven that is beyond our best poets, painters and musicians; ability to create.
No, Peter didn't want Jesus to suffer. But he was rushing to a conclusion that didn't include all the facts. And, like Peter, we must remember we are not in charge: God will do what he will, in his timing, not ours. Rest in that assurance - that in all things he works for the good of those who love him, even when we can't understand his reasons. He is God, and he is good.
Lord, so often I want to tell you how to run the world, or at least how to run my part of the world. Help me stop, fall to my knees, and worship you and only you. Send the Holy Spirit to guide me and lead me, and help me follow you day by day, step by step. Amen.