Monday, February 17, 2020

"The Misunderstanding that Didn't Happen"

Mark 8.32-33 NAS

“And He [Jesus] was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 

But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man’s.’”

Most misunderstandings begin innocently. What one party meant is not what the other heard. Both leave confused. They fume and friendships end with the silent ritual of avoidance. Time passes and hurt festers. When confrontation does occur, each erupts defensively spilling their pain like bags of marbles on a hardwood floor. Personalities collide, conflicts escalate, and relationships come to a permanent end.

My dear friend Julie excitedly introduced me to her daughter and her daughter’s fiancée. I was overjoyed to meet such a fine young couple. We discussed their wedding date and plans and then Julie said, “Dave, you know all about this, having been through it a couple of times before. You’ll probably do it a few more times,” she added with a wink and a smile.

I was momentarily stunned. Yes, I was married more than once. Julie was right... I’d “been through it a couple of times before.” But why would she remind me of my past failure and divorce in a happy moment like this? Then to tease me about the possibility of future divorce and remarriage seemed inappropriate and insensitive. I felt the instant stab of emotional pain.   

What Jesus predicted seemed inappropriate to Peter. Jesus stated “the matter plainly,” that is, the matter of His suffering, death, and resurrection.

“…the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…
and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

Messiah’s announcement did not set well with Peter. The disciple took Jesus aside for a word of correction which, as it turned out, was a bad idea. Jesus called Peter “Satan” and the relationship nearly ended on the spot.

I gently pressed my friend Julie and acknowledged the fact that I have been divorced and remarried. With the look of horror, she blurted out, “I was talking about your children, not you!

My brain slowly awakened to the truth. Julie was lovingly referring to the fact that I had already married off two of my grown daughters and I would likely see more of my children tie the happy knot. I was simultaneously struck with revelation and relief. Together Julie and I started to chuckle, then laughed almost uncontrollably at the misunderstanding that (thankfully) didn’t happen.

Even the most obvious truth stated in the clearest possible manner can be misunderstood. Before allowing the words or actions of another to fester in my soul, and certainly before I take someone aside to “rebuke,” I should gently verify what I think I heard.

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