WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Peter’s concern comes from the wrong kingdom
|31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.||31 Now that the disciples had heard and accepted what Peter had exclaimed: “You are the Messiah!”, Mark 8:29, Jesus gives the first of three teachings about what He would go through to fulfill God’s plan.
31 “Son of Man” is used more than 80 times in the gospels. It was a term Jesus used about Himself because it was not loaded with expectations and preconceptions. In the OT it often just means “human being” eg Psalm 8:4, Psalm 80:17 but it has the sense of a title in the way God often address Ezekiel in this way. But Jesus hearers would also have been familiar with Daniel 7:13-14 where the Son of Man at the end time brings the kingdom to the oppressed people on earth. The Son of Man sayings in Matthew, Mark and Luke generally combine suffering and death with glory at the end-time.
31 For further study: these sayings in Mark particular seem to refer to Daniel’s Son of Man, Mark 8:38, 13:26, 14:62.
|32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him.||32 John Wesley’s notes, “And Peter taking hold of him – perhaps by the arms or clothes”. The Message: “But Peter grabbed him in protest”.
32 Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter understood what Jesus meant by “suffer many things” and “be killed”, v.31. But for Him, the Messiah was about strength, not weakness. A suffering Messiah was unthinkable. He would not at that point have associated Isaiah 53, and Isa. 53:3 especially, with Messiah.
|33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”||33 A sharp rebuke – which was intended for all of them. Peter was voicing an opinion of the flesh – not the Mind of God revealed by the Holy Spirit (and the Holy Spirit had not yet been generally given). Peter loved Jesus and did not want Him to be taken – so he expressed a fear, an anxiety. The devil uses thoughts he tries to plant in our minds as one of his most common strategies – our thoughts don’t all come from us and they certainly don’t all come from the Spirit and it takes practice to sift out the ‘junk mail’. Peter was taking the rap for all the disciples making the commonest of mistakes, which we all make, especially at first.|
|34 Then he called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.||34 “Take up their cross” or literally, shoulder their stake, which perhaps better gets across the meaning of shameful death.
34 The starting point of being a disciple of Jesus is to be able to deny self. Ego and Jesus do not occupy the same space.
34 The follow-on point is that there is a cost to following Jesus, and in a world that is very rational and merit-orientated, the values of the servant King can bring plenty of misunderstanding, ridicule – and persecution. The last burning at the stake for presumed heresy, of Edward Wightman, a Baptist in Burton on Trent, was only four centuries ago, in 1612.
|35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.||35 Reneging on faith when under trial is not an option. The trials we experience in the western world today are not life and death as they were for our forebears; but our faith is on trial when we either do or do not stand up for Jesus’ values in a world of often opposing values. Do we want to remain popular or do we want to remain and abide in Jesus? Are we sensitive to criticism or secure enough in who we are to be ready for some criticism?|
|36-37 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?||
36-37 The only way we gain salvation is by losing the right to attain it ourselves. Our world is so permeated with the idea of performance and merit, it is hard for us to embrace what leads to spiritual life now, and life eternal, because it cannot be earned. Something that good that we don’t earn is difficult to trust. And earning seems more secure to us than trusting.
36-37 Jesus is saying that we try to hold on to life, to build a better life, to secure hope for a future life by doing the best we can in this life – and all of that causes us to miss the one thing that secures our souls. Giving up our rights to a self-determining life, so that Jesus can guide our determining by the truth about Him and His values, is losing ‘our’ life in exchange for His. This recognises what this passage looks forward to – Jesus exchanging His life, for us to be able to look to Him for eternal life.
|38 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”|
The difficulty for people of Jesus’ generation is that He didn’t look like a Messiah. Perhaps we would say He doesn’t look like a celebrity. Christ the humble suffering servant is proud humanity’s greatest stumbling block; God in Him is not seen, except with the eyes of faith.
The Anointed One, Messiah, has been linked up to ‘Son of Man’ for Peter and the disciples, but the anticipation of a conquering king so eagerly awaited by Jews who turns out to be the suffering servant of Isaiah 53:1-12 but also the One who would come again in judgment, Daniel 7:13, presented the disciples with difficulty at every level of intellectual, emotional and spiritual understanding. Mark follows this with the story of the Transfiguration, Mark 9:1-10, where those who have recognised Jesus in his lowliness as the Christ are rewarded and affirmed by being momentarily blinded by His glory.
In regarding Jesus, and for that matter in regarding anything that relates to His way, then or now, the challenge for us is seeing with faith beyond seeing what we want to see.
For reflection and discussion
God’s plan is not readily understandable, defies logic and conflicts with our worldview! So what approaches will you explore, to make the Good News of Jesus accessible to others?