I’ve been thinking about rebuke this week, as the passage from Mark that we’ll read this Sunday has one of the most famous rebukes in scripture:
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”Mark 8:31-33
I’ll have some things to say on Sunday about why Jesus rebukes Peter so sharply, but as I was painting I was mostly just thinking about Peter, the reasons why he wouldn’t want to see Jesus go to the cross, and the things he’s worried about losing if he follows Jesus into death and resurrection. There’s a depth of beauty to the world that it’s very hard to turn one’s back on, even if we are assured that our separation from that beauty will only be temporary. I grieve the possibility of separation from security, relationships, beauty, and the meanings I’ve made of my past experiences and hopes. I would rather reject the possibility of such separation. But moments of separation come no matter how much we try to prevent them, and to follow Jesus is to accept such moments. The rebuke is harsh, but probably necessary. I, at least, know that I often need to be rebuked in this way, when I am clinging too strenuously to settled ideas of what life and the world should be.