Sunday 16 September 2012

Bible Book:

"You are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things." (v. 33)

Mark 8:27-38 Sunday 16 September 2012


Thus speaks Jesus to Peter, when Peter again fails to fullygrasp Jesus' mission and purpose during his time on Earth. Peterappears to understand just who Jesus is, but cannot gain an exactpicture of what his divinity means, particularly in terms of justwhat Jesus will do while he is alive. I believe that we can see howthis failure on Peter's part comes about. Peter clearly valuesJesus' life very highly, and so, he wants to protectJesus from all troubles and danger that may come his way. But Jesusknows that he should not, and will not stay out of the authorities'attentions for long, and thus, danger will come his way.

During Jesus' time in history, there was a sect known as theEssenes, that some scholars believe Jesus may have been part of.This group of men lived in the desert and rejected everything notbe seen as divine. In doing so they thought themselves fullyobedient to God's law, and not in any way be involved in a societythat did not always please God. Similarly, it's interesting to notethat this passage shows how some believe Jesus to be anotherincarnation of John the Baptist, who was particularly regarded forhis dis-regard of worldly values, even to the point of livingoutside of the cities and towns of Palestine.

Christ, however did not do the same as either John or theEssenes. He has made the choice to exist within the city, and amongpeople who didn't necessarily subscribe to what he was doing! Tohope for the divine, while living in the murk and complexity ofhumanity is the great example that we are given by Jesus in his ownlife. But we too are called to this, and it is certainly a hugeresponsibility and a task of some magnitude and difficulty. Jesuseven brands Peter as "Satan" (v. 33) when he is unable to graspthis concept, let alone whether he achieves what he is asked to do.We might be surprised at the strength of Jesus' reaction to one ofhis friends, especially when we know that Peter wants to protecthis friend and master, but Jesus is reacting to the whole notionthat things could be any other way. The passage finishes with theproclamation that "those who are ashamed of me and of my words …,of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed" (v. 38).

Peter's defence of Christ's life, as well-meaning as it was, canalso be seen as a way of avoiding the true strength of Jesus' lifeand purpose, and this must be avoided at all costs. Do we set ourmind on human values with all the best intentions, and forget thatour calling is divine? This can be as detrimental to our faith asan action that goes entirely against God's law, and both of theseroutes are not where we are called to be.

To Ponder

  • Are you too worldly, or too far out of the world? How can weget the same balance as Jesus?
  • When you get things wrong, as Peter does here, how do you (likehim) manage to continue?
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