April 17

The Hour of Temptation
For reading & meditation: Mark 8:27-38
"' he rebuked Peter, and said, 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.' " (v.33, RSV)

We are seeing that once we have been given a vision of what God wants us to do for Him, the next thing that happens is that the vision dies. The reason for this is that Christian character must be developed in us before God can accomplish His purpose in our lives, and this can only be done by God bringing our vision down into death. Many Christians have been baffled by this strange strategy which God uses to develop Christlikeness in us, but it is yet another illustration of the principle that death must precede life. An important thing to remember is that Satan is extremely operative at this time, for his purpose is to get you to fulfil the vision by your own human effort. And whenever you do this, you will finish up in conflict. Remember what happened to Abraham? Rather than waiting for God to bring the vision into being at His own time, he tried to "help" God by having a son through Sarah's maidservant, Hagar (Gen. 16:3-4). The result of that was conflict between Isaac and Ishmael - a conflict that has continued to this day. In our reading today, we see Peter being used by Satan to talk Christ out of facing death on Calvary, but Jesus recognised the true source of his ideas and responded with the words: "Get behind me, Satan!" One writer comments on this passage: "Satan often uses those who are closest to us to 'protect' us from what we know God has called us to do." Even close Christian friends sometimes fail to understand that before we can live for God's purposes, we must die to our own.
O Father. I sense that Your ways are written, not only in Your Word, but also in me. Something within me echoes to truth. Help me to be always willing to die to my own purposes so that I can be alive to Yours. Then I will live abundantly. Amen.

For further study:
1. How can we withstand Satan's schemes?
2. Do it today.