Mark 8:31-38: Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Summary: “You are the Christ” exclaimed Peter only moments before (8:27ff). Christ as the leader Israel had been waiting for. This great King will lead them into victory. This is the one for whom the heavens tore open, the Spirit descended upon like a dove, and the very voice of God was heard. And now he must go and be killed; not exactly valiantly on a field of battle, but beaten and bruised as a criminal on a cross. The disciplines were not expecting such a bleak and defeating prophecy told by Jesus (of course, one wonders just how wrong they were probably interpreting the “…and after three days rise again” part at the time too). But for us, the most shocking statement today is hearing Jesus’ sharp and swift rebuke of Peter the spokesmen: “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter, along with the rest of the disciplines, were no doubt expecting a different kind of kingdom victory; but by doing so, they were also indirectly cheering for the wrong kingdom. That was Satan’s temptation in the wilderness: to give Christ any other kingdom, as along as it was without the Cross.
Insight: Jesus’ command to follow him should really be the most shocking of all. Take up your cross, not a sword for the kingdom of God. Lose your life, to gain your life. These statements are never as unsettling as they should be. For many of us, we have become too use to hearing them. For many of us, we don’t even try to consider the full implications of what God’s kingdom really looks like, especially over our personal lives and priorities. Likewise, we have all subtly cheered for the wrong kingdom. Abandon your life and your desires properly, follow Christ, do not be ashamed of Him and stop helping the enemy!
Child Catechism: What should followers of Christ do? They should deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him.
Discussion: How can this season of Lent help change your priorities?
Father, teach us to put our lives in the right perspective, to accept the life of your kingdom, to follow Christ more fully, by the power of your Spirit. Amen.
[contributed by malcolm west]