Indeed, it is often difficult to understand what people expect when they commit to following Jesus, but one thing is for sure: if we truly listen to what Jesus says about what he is going to do, we can expect that there is going to be a cross to bear at some point (Mk. 8:35). It seems straightforward, and yet, at least in this passage, it isn’t, for what Peter has in mind about following the Messiah is not quite the same as what Jesus has in mind.
In fact, following Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah at Caesarea Philippi (Mk. 8:29), Jesus attempts to clarify what Peter’s confession will entail: that the Son of Man must undergo suffering and be rejected…be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk. 8:31).
To be sure, such a picture for the Messiah is not on Peter’s radar. It is not the image in Peter’s head, which is not exactly wrong by the way! There is in Israel the tradition that when the Messiah would come, he would liberate the people and do so as a military leader, or as one of God’s anointed. The claim was that when the Messiah would come, suffering would cease and so would oppression, in this case, Roman rule.
And yet, here, Jesus appears to be saying the opposite. Jesus seems to be saying that when the Messiah comes, he is going to suffer and die, and that anyone who stands in the way might as well take the side of Satan (Mk. 8:33). Jesus is saying one thing, but Peter does not want to hear it.
And that’s the problem: the problem is that what Jesus is teaching gets to the heart of what the Christian faith is about: change this point and we change the faith.
How may we listen to what Jesus is teaching us? What changes will we need to make in our lives if we receive his message? What new life awaits us?
Pastor Andy Kinsey