Heavenly Father, I’m grateful for all the wisdom and insight You offer me in Your Word. Give me more today.
Read Mark 8:27-9:1
 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”  Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.  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.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  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.”  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.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  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?  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.”  And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat "hard words" did Jesus speak to his disciples here?
Following the spiritual intensity of the preceding few days, Jesus takes his disciples away from it all and poses a crucial question. They themselves have also asked this question (4:41): “Who do people say I am?” (27) and “What about you?” (29). Peter’s is a brilliant shaft of insight, a quantum leap of spiritual imagination. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to grasp Jesus’ own understanding of being the Messiah (Christ). Jesus makes the first of three predictions of his suffering, rejection and resurrection (31, also see 9:31; 10:33,34). For Jesus, being the Christ involved suffering. Peter’s denial of Jesus’ explanation provokes the severest of rebukes (33). Peter is not actually Satan, of course, but he articulated what must have been one of Jesus’ most pressing tests or temptations from Satan: seeking to achieve God’s aims while avoiding the pain and suffering involved in them (see Matt. 4:1-11). And what is true for Jesus is true for his followers (34-38). We, too, must “take up (our) cross” (34). In a final comment Jesus identifies a future moment when severe testing and the action of the Kingdom of God would overtake his followers (9:1).
Pray for those who, like Peter, have come a long way in understanding Jesus, but still struggle with some aspects.
Lord Jesus, I do want to follow You. Show me how to take up my cross, and help me do it.
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