Jesus told his followers that He MUST go to Jerusalem … to suffer many things. He also told them that He MUST be killed. Then, on the third day, He would be raised from death. Peter took Jesus away from the other followers to talk to Him alone. He began to criticize Him. “God save You from those sufferings, Lord! That will never happen to You!” Then Jesus said to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan! You are not helping Me! You don’t care about the same things God does. You care only about things that people think are important.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
While reviewing all those hideous tactics, it occurred to me that deception is often preceded by distraction. Distraction comes from Latin dis-, “apart,” and trahere, “drag.” So, distraction is when you’re dragged away from something that requires your full attention. Whereas humans are equipped to multitask many activities, driving is not one of them. It requires undivided attention. Accident statistics confirm this. Distracted driving is dangerous and can be destructive! So, the number of states banning cell phone use while driving is increasing yearly.
Read the Gospel passage above again. Jesus informed His disciples that He MUST go to Jerusalem to be killed. The word “must” is the strongest expression of necessity in the Greek language—something like a military order. Jesus was sent by the Father to die. His life was laser-like in this purpose! Peter, however, would not hear of such nonsense. “That will never happen to You!” Jesus’ reply is rather caustic: “Get away from me, Satan!” Imagine! Peter had become Satan’s tool of distraction for Jesus! Just as in the wilderness temptations the Monster was attempting to distract Jesus from the will of the Father for His life.
In following Jesus, distractions will come in many forms which may or may not be evil. In His first temptation Satan used bread as a distraction. Jesus was hungry. Bread would have provided nourishment. However, Satan’s offer was merely a distraction from Jesus’ calling as the Son of Man. Again, the Pharisees were religious to the core. Yet, their religion distracted them from Jesus.
The author of Hebrews nails the point: “Do you see what this means? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. So, when you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, said: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”