I hope and pray this letter finds you safe and well. This week we continue our journey into Lent, with a look at Mark 8: 31 – 38. Has there been a time when you have been told by a friend, colleague, or a family member something which you have found hard to accept? It is not always easy or straightforward to accept such truths. It can leave us feeling hurt, upset, or rejected because we have either previously misunderstood the situation or have not been fully aware. This was the situation described in our reading for today.
This week Jesus is giving the disciples a training session and as a part of this had to share with them some difficult truths. Jesus is explaining that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the teachers of the law. Furthermore, He is to be killed and after three days rise again. The text tells us that He spoke plainly, this was probably so that they understood and grasped the enormity of the situation that He presented to them. Peter though is upset, and instantly rebukes Jesus, as usual Mark does not tell us what Peter says but we can begin to deduce what has been said by the response given to Peter and which is recorded.
Jesus does not mince His words and sternly rebukes Peter by stating that famous line ‘get behind me, Satan!’, at first glance this could seem harsh and uncaring but then Jesus gives a brief explanation as to why: ‘you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ In other words, Peter is failing to grasp the bigger picture and see all what God will achieve through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This is because already he heard Jesus utter the words and probably does not understand or appreciate the ramifications such an action will have both on him and the rest of humanity. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to catch a glimpse of what happens next between Jesus and the disciples?
Sadly, Mark moves on to further expanding about the cross and explains that a crowd had now gathered along with the disciples. Jesus here begins to set out some broad themes about what is means to be a disciple and the consequences of such. He challenges the gathered crowd by stating that to be His disciples we must deny oneself and each of us individually take up the cross. Jesus explains if you want to keep your life you will lose it and if you lose it for the sake of the gospel you will save it. Jesus encourages us all to prioritise accepting the call because He gives the example of someone having everything then losing it all because they did not accept Jesus. If we are ashamed of Jesus now, He will be ashamed of us when He comes in glory for the final judgment. Challenging words, but ones which make sense, if we follow Christ, we will discover life in all its fullness not just now but in eternity. This Lent let us make a special effort by recommitting our lives to His following and daily taking up our cross.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, bless us now and always,