Mark’s account of Jesus’ rebuke of Peter is probably a shorthand account of what really may have taken place. Here is an attempt to recount what really happened.
Jesus. You folks know how all this is going to end up. If I keep challenging the dirty-rotten system of Roman imperialism and priestly collaboration, I will be tried and crucified. They will not think a second thought about taking me out. My message of the Kin-dom of God is so counter to their climbing, consumption, and competition culture that they cannot sit idly by while the crowds flock to me.
James. Jesus, you are my brother and I can’t stand the thought of you dying an agonizing death on the cross. Mary, our dear mother, will be broken-hearted. You know how she grieved when our father Joseph died when he fell off the scaffold of the building in Caesarea Phillippi.
Jesus. James, I understand your brotherly concern but, when I came out of the waters of the Jordan at John’s baptism, I received a clear call to preach good news and set captives and oppressed people free. I must follow my call regardless of the consequences.
Andrew. Maybe we should just cool it for a while. After some dust settles, you can get back on the campaign for justice trail.
Jesus. Andrew, you know I can’t slow down now. The die is cast.
Simon Peter. This troubles me greatly. You keep on keeping on and and you will suffocate to death on a cross. Matthias told me that he has joined the sciarii. They have their daggers and know how to take care of their opponents. If we team up with them, we can takes out a few of your leading opponents and the rest will leave us alone.
Jesus. Peter, you are acting like Satan. You know that our key message is one of nonviolent resistance to oppression. Taking up the dagger to fight the sword just continues the idiotic cycle of human fallenness and violence which have plagued us since Cain killed Abel. The kin-dom is all about a nonviolent revolution in the way we live. It is about loving enemies and forgiving those who persecute us. It is about the possibility of living authentic lives, becoming more than we are. Now you are proposing that we join an unholy alliance and assassinate them. That is the way Satan thinks. Get behind me, you bumbling fool.
[Silence ensues as the followers absorb the sting of Jesus’ firm rebuke.]
Mary of Magdala. Jesus, we have been on the Gospel trail for a long time now. Some of us are starting to understand what you are about. You know that we love you and want what is best for you; however, I for one am starting to see the power of the call you received.
Jesus. Thank you, Mary. Almost 500 hundred years ago, the Buddha sat under a bodhi tree in India and asped the nature of life and suffering. Our social climbing, consuming and competition creates suffering. We have to stop craving and start loving others by serving them. In our culture that is like taking up our crosses every day. We forget our false selves that keep beckoning us back to the fleshpots of Egypt. When we start measuring up and becoming what we are capable of being, we will then start living up to the image of God in which we all have been created.
Peter. That sounds so good but we are dealing with vicious greedy people who will stop at nothing to maintain power and control.
Jesus. Peter, you just don’t get it. You folks fail to understand what I am called to do. The time is getting short. We have been campaigning for justice and righteousness for a while now. They will not let me go on much longer. If I go up to Jerusalem, the end will be in sight but I cannot stop now. When I leave you folks and go aside to be present to the Holy One, I “understand” what my life is all about. If you were not so thick in the head, you too would understand. You are setting your minds not on divine things but on human things and you are on a dead end road to destruction and death.
Jesus. Yes, Peter, death! Moses told us that we have a choice—life or death. We are to choose life which only comes from dying to our false selves and living for others. Choosing life means to choose to live nonviolently.
Martha. Will they kill us to if we keep following you and proclaiming your Good News?
Jesus. Yes, Martha, most of you will be taken out by the powers and principalities IF you remain on message and stay the Gospel course. Right now my Good News is a seditious affront to the Good News of the Emperor who sees himself as divine.
Mary. Jesus, you know that Martha, Lazarus and I are your best friends and love you dearly. It is so hard for us to see you on this collision course with death.
Mary. Of all my children, you have always seemed to be somewhat special. When you stepped out of the waters of the Jordan, I knew you were on a new course. Matters just got worse. Remember when your brothers and sisters decided that we needed to get you out of the spotlight before some harm came to you? You seemed to be out of your mind as you preached and healed. You insisted on healing on the Sabbath and it really upset the religious leaders.
Jesus. Mary, I love all of you. I am not mad. I am driven by a divine call to proclaim the Good News so that every person may have life and everything he/she needs. When I pray, I ask the Holy One to take away the pain of my path. In spite of this, I feel strongly compelled to stay the course. Death is not the end. Death will bring new life in the power of the Spirit. I am beginning to get a better understanding of what I am to be about as I grow into union with the Holy One.
Peter. [Muttering almost inaudibly to himself.] This is nonsense.
[The hour is late and they decide to get some needed sleep.]