Last Sunday’s Gospel ended with Jesus sternly ordering the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. The profession of Peter was a flesh and blood declaration for even though he may have professed it, he and the others had certainly not understood it. In the absence of such an understanding, Peter and the others were ordered to be silent. Yet to them incredible power is given, power to bind and loose on earth things in the name of Christ.

The class on messiahship was not over, things still needed to be explained. So Jesus now ventures to explain the role of the Messiah. Unlike popular belief, the Messiah would not be one to rescue people from their earthly challenges but one who would ironically die to save them eternally. This very understanding, defied every image of the Jewish people, as to who the Messiah was to be.

Verse twenty-one sets the tone of who the Messiah would be. This is the first of three passion predictions of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (16:21, 17:22-33, 20:17-19). Unlike  Mark’s Gospel where Jesus would ‘teach’ his disciples about his passion, here, Matthew indicates that from ‘this time on, Jesus would begin to SHOW his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering.’

That Jesus wants to demonstrate this suffering rather than teach it is a clear indication that we are not to be mere witnesses to his passion but are to be participants in it. We are to live the passion death and resurrection in our life. And this is not an option; for just as Christ ‘must got to Jerusalem’ so must we take up our cross and follow him (verse 24)

The words of Christ must have been a bolt out of the blue for Peter. Here he was, minutes after being instituted with incredible power only to be told that he would have to follow the master to his passion and death. The lure of power, security and influence had taken control of Peter and having made it to the top of the list, all this seemed to be slipping through his fingers before he even had the chance to cradle it in his palms, just once.

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