My Transfiguration sermon was mostly spent telling the story of Peter’s confession of and rebuke by Jesus. So it goes that two weeks later, we hear the story of that rebuke as we continue our Lenten journey through Mark’s Gospel. The benefit of hearing it more than once, and especially of hearing it read from Mark the second time around, is that we have some familiarity with it already. We’re ready, maybe, to hear Jesus call his right hand man, Satan. Perhaps also, we’re more able to notice the scant few details that Mark offers in this story.
What I noticed this morning was exactly what Jesus rebukes Peter for. Jesus fusses at Peter for setting his mind on human things, not divine things. Or at least that is what the NRSV would have us believe. I was struck by that word “divine” and went seeking to find out what it might have meant to Jesus, when I realized that it isn’t actually what he said. In the Greek, and in pretty much every other major translation, Jesus actually says to Peter, “you’re not thinking about the things of God, but rather than things humanity.” To convey it in a more popular idiom, “that’s not God’s will but yours.”
Peter gets rebuked because he refused to follow the will of God. As I said in my sermon two week’s ago, choosing my will over the will of God is the very definition of sin. That’s why Peter gets called Satan. Satan sought his own will. Peter sought his own will. And often, I seek my own will as well.
To set our minds on God’s will requires that we set aside our own. We must lay aside the devices and desires of our own hearts, repent, and seek after the devices and desires of God. It isn’t easy. Even Jesus’ right hand man, Simon Peter of Capernaum, failed from time to time. Our invitation, especially in Lent, is to be intentional about laying down our own stuff to follow after God, or as the NRSV prefers to put it: to set our minds on divine things.