A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – Day TWENTY-SIX

Mark 8:27-9:1, Today’s New International Version 
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. 
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul? Or what can you give in exchange for your soul? If any of you are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” 
And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
There are two really important things in these words that I have never really seen before this instant.

Jesus is walking with his disciples, not yet on his way to Jerusalem and Holy Week, but getting ever closer.

And he asks them a key question – probably the most important question in all of scripture:
     Who do you say that I am?
Peter jumps in with a blisteringly accurate and perceptive and even surprising response: “You are the MESSIAH!”

Peter? Is that really you?

Well, yes. It turns out it is. Peter the Blunderbuss is alive and well, as we shall very soon see.

Building on that answer, Jesus begins to teach his friends what it means to truly be the Messiah. And it doesn’t look at all like what Peter thought he meant.


So Peter takes it upon himself to lecture The Teacher – he rebukes him, the scripture tells us.

And catch it – right there, just a short little phrase – important thing number one:  
     But when Jesus turned and looked at the disciples 

It matters to Jesus that his friends know the difference between the truth and a lie. 

     That’s when he rebukes Peter.
     That’s when he tells Satan to knock it off.
     That’s when he begins to talk about the cross-shaped life.
     That’s when he warns – 
          if you’re embarrassed by me now, in this life – 
          then I will be embarrassed by you when I come in glory.

Jesus sees right through to the heart of Peter’s critique, to the hard truth that Peter is embarrassed, and that he truly has no clue what the Jesus life looks like. And Jesus calls it like he sees it: Peter is talking lies…which is probably why he calls him Satan.

And important thing number two? 
All of these words about taking up the cross and losing your life to gain it –  they are said to an ever-larger group of people. Because right here in the narrative, Jesus opens wide the circle of listeners:
     “Then he called the crowd to him along with the disciples…”
I had always pictured this as a two-way conversation – between Peter and Jesus.

But Jesus….
But Jesus…
     does not will that ANY should be left out.
But Jesus…
     wants those who follow him to grasp the true nature of that following.
But Jesus…
     insists that the Kingdom life is the upside-down life, the back-to-front life, the are-you-sure-this-is-what-you-had-in-mind? life.
So…as we keep moving closer to that cross in our Lenten journeying, I wonder…
     what about Jesus embarrasses us? 
     how quickly do we see and name the lie?
     who else needs to be folded into the circle of good news?


Not-always-so-gentle Savior, I thank you today for the fierceness I see in you here. For your determination to tell the truth, no matter the cost; for your desire that we should all hear it, name it, own it. Help me never to rebuke you out of embarrassment. Help me to embrace who you are and to welcome opportunities to participate in your upside-down invitation to give it all away.

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  1. Two of your phrases jumped out at me and I’ve been re-reading them: 
    “it doesn’t look at all like what Peter thought he meant.”
    “the Kingdom life is the upside-down life, the back-to-front life, the are-you-sure-this-is-what-you-had-in-mind? life.”

    The older I get the more I recognize the need to ponder, even question, what I’ve embraced in the past. In my old age I’m finding I’m like Peter: a relationship with God looks different from what I used to think it was. It’s upside down, inside out, and oh so much better, richer, freer. Thanks for your blessed, inspired words today, Diana.


  2. You are welcome, Linda – thank you for stopping by and offering such encouraging words. I think the purpose of mid-life and beyond is to re-examine where we’ve been, what we believe and why we believe it. Only good things can happen when we do!

  3. Beth Werner Lee says

    I always wondered why he paused to look back at the disciples before rebuking Peter. It’s dramatic, I’ve tried to visualize it, like in a play, Peter drawing Jesus away to rebuke him and then he looked at the others and then tells Peter off…there seemed to be a parallel with when his mother and brothers came to get him and they were outside looking for him and he said his disciples were his family because they did the will of God.
    Your main points: embarrassed by Jesus and needing to fold others in, I need to spend some time praying through both, thank you (and it took me a couple days to get to reading this!).

  4. No need to apologize, Beth. At this point in everyone’s Lenten journey, we’re behind! It’s a long stretch at one of the busiest times of the year – especially for people with school-aged kids. Thanks for taking the time to comment.