Miracles and Suffering
Seeking Savior, Loving Father, Living Spirit, I reach out to You again today. Have mercy upon me. Draw me closer to You.
Read MARK 8:27-9:1
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.
“The incarnation involves an exchange … God becomes one of us, even to the extent that he accepts suffering and death” (Graham Arbuckle).
Mark’s Gospel leaps from scene to scene with dizzying intensity. Moods can shift as quickly as the weather. Having laid out account after account of healings and miracles, interspersed with significant sound bites of teaching, Mark now invites us to eavesdrop on a conversation between Jesus and his closest disciples. This is a dialogue of surprises. It begins with Peter, on behalf of the Twelve, affirming that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (29). How could he not be, with healings, resurrections, mass feedings and profound parables so prominent in recent memory? Jesus then makes a leap in logic and begins to speak of his own future suffering and death (31). Peter, quick to speak and slow to understand, steps in and receives an almost violent rebuke (33). As Peter retreats to lick his wounds, Jesus goes on to explain that the way to life leads through the way of death (35).
Nothing is wasted in Mark’s writings, and this dialogue serves a very significant purpose. It affirms with great clarity the linking of the miracles of Jesus to his sufferings. The key to understanding Christ’s miracles is incarnation; we need to know that God has come in the flesh. This is also the key to his sufferings. God comes to us not only to take on our nature, but in his sufferings to redeem us: “the incarnation of divine love in a world of sin leads to the cross (Miroslav Volf). The death of Jesus is not an interruption of his mission, but its climax. This was a lesson it took Peter a long time to learn, and it became the cornerstone belief of the New Testament church he would later lead. Christmas and Easter are two chapters in one story. The Christ we welcome in incarnation is the Christ who gives his life for us.
What does it mean to you that Jesus came in the flesh? Ponder this and give thanks for the riches of his grace that God has bestowed on you.
Lord, I know that to be Your follower I must reckon with the cross as I both begin and continue with You. Empower me to take up my cross.
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