Summary: What is Jesus’ agenda for you today?

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Mark 8:31-9:1 What Good Is It?

5/27/01 D. Marion Clark


In the movie The Matrix, Keanu Reeves must make a quick, but irrevocable decision – whether to swallow a pill that will let him live a normal life in a world of illusion or to swallow another pill that will make him able to know the truth, i.e. reality. Choosing the pill of truth, he soon afterwards is told “the truth” of reality, which fills him with horror, and he at first tries to deny that the revelation is real.

Peter faces the same experience in our story. He, on behalf of the other disciples, has made the confession that Jesus is the Christ. He knows that his confession of faith is also a confession of allegiance, that he also has made an irrevocable decision. Then, to his horror, Jesus begins to reveal clearly the reality of what being the Messiah means, as well as to follow him.

The Reality of Being the Messiah

29 “But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

And so Peter makes the great confession. He gets it right. Jesus is the Christ. The mystery is made clear and the disciples have cast their lots with their Lord. They must have been excited. What millions of Jews have anxiously hoped for over the centuries, this small band of men are now experiencing – the revealing of the Messiah. And they know what to expect – the revealing of God’s kingdom. God’s Deliverer stands before them, and they are about to follow him into glory as he slays Israel’s enemies and restores to her the kingdom.

With great anticipation they listen to what Jesus has to say. 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this…

The excitement on their faces fade; they look perplexed, then horrified. They can’t be hearing Jesus right. Their glorious vision of leading troops into battle against Israel’s and God’s enemies is turning into a terrible nightmare.

Jesus uses the term, the Son of Man. Yes, that’s right. That is a term for the Messiah. They knew Daniel 7:13,14: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

What then is this business about suffering? What do you mean, Jesus, that you will be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law? How can they reject God’s King? Killed? What are you talking about? We don’t want to hear some crazy stuff about rising; it is awful to think that the Messiah would be killed by his own people. That is sick!

Finally, Peter has to stop the talk: and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. That is nice of Peter to take Jesus aside and not rebuke him in front of the disciples. I’m sure Jesus appreciated that gesture! Peter realizes that he must act. This kind of talk is upsetting the disciples. They’ve just made a profession of allegiance to him and he responds by prophesying doom. If Jesus is going to be a leader, he can’t talk like that. Perhaps the Messiah ministry has not started off as it could have. The religious leaders are not responding very nicely, to be sure; but really, Jesus can’t let opposition get him down like that. He needs to be positive, at least in front of his followers.

Peter hoped for a good response from Jesus. “Yes, Peter, thanks. I don’t know what came over me. Those hateful religious leaders just won’t leave me alone, and I just get so tired of it all. When you professed me to be the Christ, it just released the mounting frustration in me that I can’t get those guys to accept me. Thanks for the admonition. I don’t know what I’d do without someone like you to stand up to me sometimes.”

Maybe it looked like Jesus would actually say something like that. He turns and looks at his disciples. He sees the dismay on their faces. Maybe Peter has gotten through to him.

33 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 things of God, but the things of men.”

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