I have been watching a show on Netflix called Haven. It is about strange occurrences that keep happening to the town and how different people are involved in them. What has been the most fascinating to me about the show lately is that one of the characters named Duke.
At the end of an episode Duke finds out from another person how he is going to die. Ever since that moment happened Duke has been obsessed with trying to find out who specifically it is that is going to kill him. He believes that if he has all the information, since he was only given part of it, then he will be able to prevent the death that was predicted.
Because preserving his life is of the utmost importance to him he makes choices and does certain things that he may not have done had he never known some of the details of his death. I am still watching the show so I don’t know what is going to happen to Duke and if the path he is going down only leads him to that very prediction that he was trying to avoid, or if he does manage to change what is going to happen to him. All I do know is that he is only doing things that benefit himself and that help him answer the mystery of his death.
This whole idea of knowing one’s future is a very common idea actually. I have been a part of, and I am sure you may have as well, the conversation with friends or family about whether or not you want to know when and/or how you die. I am always fascinated by people’s answers about whether or not they want to know, because of the very reason why I am so interested in the Duke character from Haven. Does knowing what is going to happen influence how you are going to live your life? And if it does, is that a good or a bad thing? Because knowing your future isn’t just about knowing it, but it then affects your whole life afterward, whether you know it or not.
With that in mind, what do you think it must have been like for Jesus to not only know his own death but also to share it with his disciples? That is exactly what happens in our Gospel lesson today. Jesus knew he was going to have to go through intense suffering, rejection by his own society and religion, suffer death through crucifixion, and then rise to eternal life after 3 days. Who knows how long Jesus knew about the way in which he was going to die, but the fact remains he knew and he also felt it was important to share with his disciples.
I can see how important it was for Jesus to share this with them, so that they were prepared and knew there was a day when they would have to carry on without him, but he is also putting on the burden of them knowing what is going to happen to hin also. Which then means that they too are subject to possibly changing the way they live their lives and the way in which they interact with and learn from Jesus. Perhaps that is what they needed in their life and perhaps it is what Jesus needed from them to be able to complete his ministry.
And yet, as soon as the words are finished being uttered by Jesus, Peter pulls him aside and outright rebukes Jesus. If we take a look at the same story in we see that Matthew has Peter rebuke him, but we also get to hear what Peter says. Peter rebukes Jesus by telling him, “God forbid it, Lord. This must never happen to you.” Peter has seen so many good things happen from this man. He has healed bling people, he has fed thousands, healed the deaf, cured the sick, and taught so many new and incredible things that could only come from God. Why would anyone want a person like that to ever leave this world? Jesus is doing so much good for so many people and at maybe the height of his ministry he takes them aside and tells them he is going to suffer and die. It was too much for Peter to take. Even though Peter gets a bad rap here, if we take a look at the text we see that before Jesus rebukes Peter he turns from a private conversation with him to a public conversation with all the disciples. Jesus wants to make it clear to all of them that this is the way things are going to happen and that they are too busy thinking about themselves and not about God’s plan.
Jesus then turns this interaction into a teaching moment. What this teaching boils down to is exactly what he just told Peter. You can look at and live your life two ways. You can live your life focused on only yourself and what benefits you in life or you can live your life focused on God and what benefits God’s world and everyone and everything inside of it.
You see, from the TV show I referenced earlier, Duke took his information and used it to benefit him, but it also took up his whole being. He has since hurt and negatively affected the relationships in his life because he is so focused on himself. What is the point of spending your whole life figuring out your future if it takes away from living the life that you have been given? Duke may gain more years to actually live on this earth, but what has he given up in exchange for that longevity? If he ends up losing his friends, and all the things important to him, is it really worth knowing the answer to that question?
Jesus knew the answer to the question. He knew how he was going to die and he used that information to live a life that God called him to live. He did not stray from what God was calling him to do. I know we are in the Gospel of Mark right now, but this lesson reminds me of the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Jesus knew who he was. I am the good shepherd; I am the true vine; I am the bread of life; I am the resurrection and the life. There was no prediction, no event, no person in his life that was going to tell Jesus he was anything other than what he was, the Son of God, come to rescue us from our sins. Peter wasn’t going to tempt him from doing what he had to do and what he was called to do here on this earth.
Jesus came so that he might live, suffer, die, and rise again. That is who Jesus was and who Jesus is for us. Who are we then? What do we stand for? How do we finish the statement, “I am...” How does our lives and our beings answer the question of who we are regardless of how our future ends up in this life? As Christians, we know that this life is only a part of our journey and there is so much more promised to us when we are gone from this physical world. Don’t worry about what will happen to you in this life and lose yourself in it, but instead focus on God and the things of God.
Hold on to and treasure the very difficult but incredible words that Jesus has to share with his disciples. The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected, and killed. Because it doesn’t end there for Jesus either, Jesus will then rise after three days, and in that death and resurrection the promise and guarantee that our sins are forgiven and that we will have everlasting life with God in heaven has already been fulfilled. There is no prediction about our life, no information that is more important than those words. It is through his death and resurrection that we are saved. Focus your hearts and minds not on human things, but on divine things because we already know the outcome of our lives, as promised to us through God and made complete through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.