21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. -Matthew 16:21-23
From what I gather on blogs, books, and discussions with Emergent people, at worst the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is not essential (and likely a wicked view of God) to the faith of Christians or at best is not as important as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and giving to the poor.
So why did in this passage Jesus see it necessary that He die on a cross and rise from the dead and ascend into heaven; and not only necessary, but as far more important than Him sticking around forever and just going around the world healing everyone?
That’s what Peter wanted. For Jesus to set up some earthly kingdom where everything was all better. Jesus refers to Peter’s thinking as that of the Devil.
Jesus’ healings, miracles, and everything else were not a end in them self. Jesus did not heal to simply heal. If that were the case He would not have rejected some to being healed (Matthew 13:38). But rather He did so to point everyone to HIM. He was the Christ, the Son of God who had come to deliver sinners from sin and wrath so that they may worship Him.
Yes poverty is sad. So is sickness, nakedness, and hunger. And we should strive to help those in need! But those are not mankind’s greatest threats. Salvation from the wrath of God and reconciliation with Him is. That is why Jesus’ PRIMARY concern was His death, resurrection, and ascension. Because it is not our social work or justice that saves but Jesus’ work alone that truly saves.