Sunday 25 February 2024

Bible Book:

] quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (v. 32)

Mark 8:31-38 Sunday 25 February 2024


In three of the gospels (Matthew, Luke, and the one we read today – Mark) there is a dramatic change of focus from Jesus’ ministry in Galilee to his teaching about his forthcoming rejection and suffering in Jerusalem – his passion.

Of the three gospels only Mark (8:32) says that Jesus' pronouncements were made very plainly, not played down or veiled. Too plainly for Peter, it seems, who does not welcome Jesus' announcement and without hesitation rebukes him.

It is tempting to credit Peter with some tact for, after all, he does take Jesus aside (v. 32) before launching his tirade. That however is a dead end. Jesus spoke of the way of suffering but he also concluded by proclaiming the good news of the resurrection (v. 31).

Somewhere in the mists of time, I heard or read someone pointing out that Jesus does not say what needs to be said behind people's backs but to their faces. I find it a handy and challenging tool when reading the gospels.

Here Jesus talks bluntly to Peter who proclaimed him Christ in 8:29 and then rebuked him having barely caught his breath. You need, Jesus says, to focus on something bigger than your human needs. Jesus calls everybody in earshot to gather round and hear his description of what it means to be his follower. ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…" (v. 34). It is a calling to be followers where the consequence of choosing Christ are likely be pain and hardship.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) chose a way of discipleship in opposition to the Nazi regime in Germany. He created a training community for pastors and participated in a plot to kill Hitler. The regime he opposed killed him. In one of his books – The Cost of Discipleship – he says “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”.


To Ponder:

  • Are there situations where you could/should speak more plainly?
  • Do you identify at all with Peter in this passage?
  • How do you react to Bonhoeffer’s summary of discipleship as “Come and die”?


Jesus, Word of God, open my ears, enliven my thinking, and discipline my speech. Shape, I pray, my pilgrim life in joy and sorrow alike. Amen.

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