Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent.

“Get behind me, Satan.” Jesus in Mark 8:31-end, NIV.

“Get thee behind me, Stan.” Misprint in an order of service of Mark 8:33, KJV.

The name Satan originates from the Hebrew and means accuser or adversary. It’s one of the names by which the devil is known and he is often depicted as dressed in red with horns, a trident and cloven hooves, much in evidence at Hallowe’en, and often seen as a figure of fun. The accidental reference to him as Stan is amusing but part of his challenge in that so many people see the devil as an invention and part of the subtlety of the accuser is that so many people don’t believe he exists.

Whether or not the notion of a devil is accepted, the reality of the power of evil is very much in evidence today as any news broadcast indicates. When Jesus addresses Satan in the accusations he is making through what Peter is saying, Jesus clearly feels very strongly that he is being tempted to find another, easier, way of responding to what God is asking of him. It must have been horrifying for the disciples to hear Jesus speaking of his suffering and death –  understandably they would want to avoid this and Peter even rebukes Jesus for what he is saying. The harsh response from Jesus shows how strongly he reacted to the accusation that this must not be the way – and yet Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that they, too, must take up their own cross. What an awful prospect for them to contemplate!

The crucifixion is now so central to the Christian faith that it may be hard to grasp how shocking this would have been for the disciples to hear. Having seen the miracles he performed, the crowds he attracted and his effect on them, this would have filled them with hope for the future but what Jesus tells them so appalls the disciples that the actual hope for the future through the resurrection that will also follow seems to have been lost on them. Although the disciples are unable at this point to realise it, there will be hope – but not as they envisage. Perhaps, as our Lenten journey continues, the same is true for us?

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.