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Every Day, Following Jesus – Day 21 (Monday, April 27)

Read Mark 8:27-9:1

As Jesus is walking with his disciples he turns to them and asks, “Who does everyone say I am?”  The disciples respond with the words that they had heard from others, “Some say you are John the Baptist, others think you are Elijah and other say you are one of the prophets.” Then Jesus turns to them and asks them the million-dollar question, “But who do you say I am?”  And Peter responds (it’s always Peter, I think that’s why I like him so much, when everyone else is trying to think of the right answer Peter just blurts out whatever he is thinking) “You are the Messiah.”  This is a big deal, I mean a really big deal, such a big deal that Jesus orders his disciples not to tell anyone else what had just happened.

And then Jesus continues to teach them. If you grew up in a church you are probably familiar with the word Messiah and if you are anything like me you probably hear the word Messiah and automatically think Jesus (Messiah = Jesus right?). In fact, from the Christian point of view, the word Messiah is a pretty loaded term. To a Christian it means Son of God, Saviour – everything the word Jesus means. But to the disciples it most probably meant something a little bit different. See, the Old Testament understanding of Messiah was a future hope for a future King who would return Israel to its former glory as God’s chosen people. Messiah in the Old Testament didn’t necessarily mean divine and so when Peter said, “You are the Messiah,” he was saying; ‘you are the future King’.  Now it’s no wonder that Jesus told his disciples to be quiet. The Palestinian area already had a king instated by the Roman Empire and Herod wouldn’t have taken too kindly to another person claiming to be King; that’s the sort of thing that can get a man killed. But there’s more to it than just being a threat to Herod – Jesus needed to reframe his disciples understanding of the word Messiah.

And so Jesus begins to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must die.  The disciples knew who Jesus meant when he said “Son of Man”; they had heard Jesus refer to himself enough times as the “Son of Man” to know that Jesus was talking about his own death.  He tried to teach them that he must die and after three days rise again, but for his disciples this just seemed too much.

No, he was meant to be the Messiah, the future King. He was their hope. He was going to overthrow the chief priests. He was going to overthrow Herod. He was going to overthrow the Roman Empire. But instead he kept going on about how he must die.

Peter loses it and turns to Jesus telling him that he mustn’t speak that way, even if people tried to hurt Jesus, Peter wouldn’t allow it.  But rather than being thankful for his disciples support – Jesus turns to him and sternly commands, “Get behind Me Satan.”

The first time I read that, I have to admit I thought: “Whoa Jesus that’s a bit harsh, he is just trying to protect you.” But Jesus wasn’t attacking Peter. No, I believe he was attacking the temptation, the temptation that came from Satan himself – the temptation for Jesus not to go through with it, the temptation to take the easy way out, the temptation to leave human kind separated from God.

I believe the temptation was present because the cost was so great. Jesus knew exactly what salvation of the world was going to cost him and I don’t believe he was looking forward to paying the price.  But rather than even being tempted for a second, Jesus recognizes the temptation from the evil one and commands Satan to be gone.

Just as Jesus knew it would cost him everything to be the Saviour for humankind, he also challenged his followers what it would cost them. The cost for us is the same – nothing, but everything. Everything, because in order to save our lives we must give them up, but nothing because our lives are not our own. See, if we don’t belong to God the creator of the universe, then we belong to the evil one – it’s one or the other.  So if you wish to save your life, you must be first willing to let go of everything you were – to become a new creation. Today, take time to do business with God – have you really surrendered all that you are to him? Or are you still trying to hold onto some of your old life?

Questions/Discussion;

  • What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
  • How is King Jesus different to other kings or leaders in our world?
  • What does it mean to make Jesus King in your life?
  • What are some the things that tempt you to not make Jesus number 1 in your life?
  • How have your life looked more like what everyone else does and less like what King Jesus says it should look like. Is there anything you can do to change this?

Pray For Each Other