13 February 2016

Mark 8:27 – 9:1

“‘Who do people say that I am?’ ... ‘But who do you say that I am?’” (vv. 27, 29)

Psalm: Psalm 35:9-18


The disciples have been present with Jesus as he has taught, and participated in the miracles he has performed. Jesus finally turned to the disciples to make up their mind about him.

He asked them, first, what others had been saying about who they thought he was. Their answers included Elijah - one of the greatest Jewish prophets - and John the Baptist, who has been a popular contemporary prophet before recently being beheaded by King Herod.

Jesus then turned to the disciples and asked them who they thought he is. Peter declared that he was the Messiah (verse 29). In Mark's Gospel, Jesus is secretive about his identity (eg Mark 1:44; 7:36; 9:9). He told the disciples to tell no-one this truth about his Messiahship. Perhaps he did not want to attract fame as a miracle maker, rather than one who was bringing God's kingdom into being. Perhaps people have to discover this truth for themselves?

Jesus went on to teach his disciples about the nature of God's kingdom. It is a kingdom which comes into being through patient enduring, as well as through potent action. Peter did not like this teaching. He urged Jesus to avoid suffering, and Jesus rebuffed Peter, calling him Satan (verse 33). Peter must have gone from the spiritual high of a profound recognition of who Jesus was, to a spiritual low of misunderstanding so badly the meaning of who Jesus was. He saw partially, but not clearly. And this is often true of our spiritual encounters with God.

Jesus then began to teach that those who would follow him must take up their cross and lose their life. The life we all must lose, is the life that centres round us as kings and queens in our own kingdom. All of us must be like Peter, seeing in part, because God's kingdom is so much bigger in scope than our small imaginings, and we can only glimpse a sense of its immensity.

To Ponder

  • Have you had the experience of losing your life, only to discover a whole new, bigger, richer and broaderone? What happened and what was the change like for you?
  • Have you had the experience of making a big mistake in your discipleship? Why did you make the mistake and what did you learn from it?
  • In your own experience, what do other people say about Jesus? And who do you think Jesus is?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Ellis

Jenny is a Methodist minister and this year has permission to study, as well as work alongside a rural chapel to help it find a new physical presence and sense of mission in its village. She is leading a number of quiet and study days.