Year B – Proper 19 – Mark 8:27-38

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.  And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Summary – Peter gets slapped around a little bit because he told Jesus, contrary to what Jesus had just said, that He shouldn’t tell them that He had to suffer and die.  Clearly, as Jesus said, Peter was being selfish and not thinking about the big picture God had initiated.  So Jesus continued to teach:  self-denial in following Christ is necessary.  Losing one’s life for the sake of the Gospel brings a reward.  So don’t be ashamed of Christ before the world, or He will deny us.

Insight – Peter becomes such a good example of what NOT to do so many times!  Can you believe Peter would tell God’s Son what to teach?  The truth was that Peter was thinking about Jesus’ ministry from a human perspective.  He was thinking about the shame that would come to Jesus and all His followers–and especially Peter–if Jesus were killed.  But right after this exchange, Jesus tells us how we should be thinking.  Don’t think about yourself.  Don’t think about how it looks to other  people.  Put your own personal goals and desires behind that of following Christ, and the life you thought you wanted will become the one you don’t want, while the new life you get through Jesus will become everything you ever wanted.  Being afraid and timid and not sharing Christ with those you have the chance to is doing what Peter did, setting your mind on the things of man.

Child Catechism – How should you follow Jesus?  Forget my own desires and do what God tells me.

Discussion – Why did Jesus have to point out Peter’s Satanic and human-centered attitude? (*Parent hint* The question is getting at Jesus’ faithfulness to His mission)  Why did Jesus even teach them about his impending death at this time?  What are some ways you can be unashamed of Christ and of His words?

Prayer – Lord, we so often fall short of your glory, focusing on our own immediate desires and not on your Kingdom’s purposes.  We need you to change our hearts.  Remove our self-centeredness and replace it with Christ-centeredness, that we might follow after you in a way that makes you proud of us.  In Christ’s name, Amen.

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