“Give up control and trust the pilot.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 20, 2021
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mark 8:31-33 (ESV)
I was recently on a flight that I would rather forget. As I walked down the terminal, the sky above proceeded to “gift” us with relentless hail below. Confirming my fears, once on board the pilot announced that we were going to have to dodge several large storm systems and that it was going to be a rough and bumpy ride. It turns out he was a man of his word! Our destination was one of peace and safety, yet the only way to reach it was through the difficulty of this present storm. In that moment, as we dipped and dived through the skies, I thought of Jesus’ interaction with Peter in Mark 8.
The suffering and death of Jesus was an unexpected and unwelcome twist in the plans of the disciples. They thought they signed up for a revolution, finally putting the Romans in their place and restoring Israel to its true place in society and the world. Lacking any framework or category for resurrected life, Peter seems to ignore these words of power and hope and instead focuses in on the rejection of Christ, choosing to show Jesus the folly and error of his ways. In a sense, Peter wanted to redirect Jesus according to his own desired outcome.
In this moment, Peter was flooded with feelings to which every human can relate: fear, anger, insecurity, and perhaps most immediately, a lack of control. If we return to my recent adventure in the air, in a sense, Peter has just been told by the pilot that this journey is fraught with danger and will be a very rough ride. The final destination is unspeakably glorious, yet the only way to reach it is to pass through a storm of chaos and conflict, death and betrayal. And so, Peter is asked to do the impossible: give up control and trust the pilot.
In 10,000 different ways, this is the shape and story of our lives. You have been, will be, and likely are in this very moment invited by our Lord into situations that require great trust and faithful obedience, even in the face of fear and doubt. We struggle with the reality of discipleship, that Jesus walked the way of the cross, and therefore to follow him, we must do the same. If we want to reach our destination, the storm cannot be avoided. We must pass through it with faith and courage, believing our Lord is good, loves us, and will not lead us astray. And so we trust him, and hear again his words spoken to us today:
‘For 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).
Father, help us to trust you, even in times of great uncertainty and doubt, believing you are leading us to a glorious future, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In what ways are you tempted, like Peter, to redirect and rebuke Jesus, rather than trusting him to lead?
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