«From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day» (Matthew 16:21).
I remember that when I was in medical school, one of the courses we took prepared us to give bad news to our patients. There were several factors to keep in mind, and it was never an easy task, but it was part of our responsibility, and as doctors in whom the patients put their trust, it was our duty to do so in the kindest way possible.
Before giving His disciples details about His bleak future on this earth, Jesus took time by Himself to pray and to ask for strength for them. Then, interestingly, with a well thought out plan in mind, He asked them a question to confirm their faith in Him.
The disciples were still not completely prepared to be separated from their Master. In spite of the faith they had, and of all that they had seen Him do, they were immersed in a society which for the most part doubted the nature and the mission of Jesus. How could this handful of men face all of the attacks of the enemy and his hosts?
Peter personified both stances: that of faith, saying «You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, » when Jesus asked who they believed He was; and that of doubt, saying «This will never happen to You», referring to the death that Jesus would have to suffer.
For the former, Peter received a blessing and a confirmation of the divine plan that God had for His church and the position of leadership that Peter would have in it.
For the latter, Peter received one of the strongest reproaches that Jesus ever gave: «Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men» (Matthew 16:23).
Of course the disciples did not want to see their Lord suffer. The motive for His sacrifice was still a mystery to them at least in they way it would take place. But Jesus needed their support and their understanding of His decision.
Today you have the opportunity to act according to one of these two stances, and you can use this simple test with your friends (at least in your imagination), to make sure that they are not taking you down wrong paths or telling you only what is pleasant to hear on a short-term basis.
Jesus’s sacrifice may be a mystery, but it the best mystery of all, and it is worth it to live for Him.