Read Matthew 16:21-28.
Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things. (Matthew 16:23)
Was Jesus joyful? If so, it was usually an interior joy, a spiritual joy. Hidden.
In what would Jesus have taken his greatest delight? Surely it would be in the eternal plan of God for the redemption of the world, the plan he himself was enacting at that very moment. Surely it would be in his own divine, self-sacrificing love, his radiance of the Father’s glory. Perfect love is within and among the persons of the Trinity, and perfect joy is in the glory of God.
Jesus rebukes Peter in this verse for desire of worldly success and honor, for aversion to shame and suffering, for not seeing the divine glory underneath the visible grime, for not having a renewed mind. He calls Peter nothing less than the very essence of deceitful temptation.
Desires and aversions can be good and right or disordered. It is good and natural to desire food when we are hungry, so that we can continue to serve. It is disordered when we desire more than we need or other than what is for our long-term good or what is detrimental to others.
Aversion to suffering can be good and right or disordered. It is natural and right to seek to avoid suffering, all else being equal. It is glorious to willingly suffer what brings glory to God and salvation to all.
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 15:24-25)
Consider the state of the world today. Where do you find joy in this time of discord and division and loss? God is at work. There are flashes of radiance underneath the grime. Do you see them? Are you helping make them shine? Are you a disciple?
Discipleship requires a renewed mind that sees and seeks the glory beneath the grime.
Unruly desires and aversions are the very essence of deceitful temptation. A renewed mind requires regulated passions. If you would follow Jesus, watch and pray and fast.
A renewed mind requires patience. If you would follow Jesus, rejoice in the radiance being revealed by the grinding away of grime. Take joy in your suffering.
Detachment and patience together make you a follower of Jesus. Detachment and patience yield joy.
There is a hidden joy in seeing and participating in the radiant flow of God’s glory.