Scripture: Mark 8:31-39
31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
In the gospel of Mark, we read several times where Jesus tells the person he has healed not to tell anyone who he was. He wanted to keep his identity low key in regard to the public, Jewish religious leaders, and the occupying Romans. Why? I’d suggest his message was more important than his identity at this point, or perhaps it was because he wanted time to proclaim the kingdom of God and what it actually was like-not the military overthrow of Roman occupation, for which the people were hoping. He wanted to show the public that the nature of God’s kingdom had to do with the inner transformation of the heart and not a political manifesto. But as Jesus comes closer to the end of his time on earth, he lets his full identity come front and center. The above pericope then follows.
In the context of this passage, Jesus is walking with his disciples after just having healed a blind man when he asks his followers, “Who do people say I am?” Peter boldly announces that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Peter did not want to hear that Jesus would suffer many horrible things and eventually be killed and, as you just read, and he told Jesus so! Peter had become a tool of Satan at this point. Jesus recognized the devil’s ploy and issued the sharp rebuke to Peter. Do you remember in Jesus’ moment of temptation in the Lukan account where the physician wrote the devil departed for a more “opportune” time? (Luke 4:13) Well, here it was, another attempt to sidetrack the divine mission. Jesus quickly, loudly, and firmly rejected Peter’s ill-advised plea. He went on to say to his disciples (and us) that following him would be most difficult and demand that the person give up their life.
Frankly, the best thing we “give up for Lent” is our life. I can think of nothing better to give. Your and my pilgrim journey consists of taking up our cross every single day of our life on earth for Jesus’ sake and letting go of this world as we proclaim the coming kingdom of God. There is no day or moment off in following Christ. Don’t be surprised that the devil fights us every step of the way. He’s already lost the battle. Remember Jesus’ words, “Get away from me, Satan!” The victory has been won!
Music: “More Love to Thee” Omar Dickinson Hampton University Choir Directors and Organist Guild
Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest,
now Thee alone I seek,
‘Give what is best,
This all my prayer shall be
More love, O Christ, to thee,
More love to Thee
More love to Thee.
Prayer: (Instead of us praying today, this is part of Jesus’ prayer, praying for us. –from John 17)
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth, teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” –Jesus
(During this week we’ll center on one of the three primary themes of the Lenten season, prayer, the other two being fasting and giving to the poor. To enhance our own prayer life and to gain a better understanding of prayer and praying, we’ll look at six different recorded prayers from both Old and New Testaments. Today we turn to study Daniel ’s prayer.)
Book Recommendations: A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie, Scribners; Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, ed. Veronica Zundel, Eerdmans