Summary: What we can do to set our minds upon God.
The popular talk-show host Larry King was one asked whom he would choose, if he had the choice to interview one person across history. Larry King replied that he would like to interview Jesus Christ and that he would ask Him just one question: “Are you indeed virgin born? The answer to that question,¨ said King, “would explain history for me.”
--Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message, p. 38
Mark 8:31-38 immediately follows a question Jesus posed to his disciples. He asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They responded in Mark 8:28, “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 Christ.”
Let’s pick up our text at this point:
MK 8:31 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, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
MK 8:33 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."
It is important to note that Peter and Jesus had very different things in mind regarding the title, “Christ”.
• The title means “Anointed One”. “Messiah” is a synonym.
• When Peter used the term, he was thinking about the popular version of the Jews…that the Messiah would be a political leader. One who would restore the Jews to self-rule and throw out foreigners.
• When Jesus heard this proclamation from Peter he warned them not to tell anyone about him. This seems peculiar. There are times in the Gospels that Jesus encourages people to tell others about him and in several instances where Jesus forbids people to speak about what has occurred. What’s the difference? It has to do with the understanding of the people regarding the “Christ”.
• In Jewish territory, where people had in mind what the “Christ” should do, Jesus asked for secrecy.
• In Gentile territory, where people were unfamiliar with the political ideas, Jesus encouraged testimony.
• Jesus was wary of Peter’s proclamation and for good reason. Peter didn’t like what Jesus began to explain about His true mission—that He would suffer, be killed and rise again.
There are two things to take away from the exchange of rebukes in verses 32 and 33:
1. We are self-centered
2. When we aren’t doing God’s work, we are doing Satan’s work!
• This rebuke of Jesus was harsh. Jesus called Peter Satan. Peter’s counsel was the same type of temptation Jesus had to resist in the desert.
MT 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
MT 4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ "
Jesus then lays it all out to the crowd. He tells them directly what it will mean if they want to follow Him. And He tells us the same things today:
1. Take a backseat
v. 34, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
• James A. Brooks, in his commentary on Mark, writes, “To deny oneself is not to do without something or even many things. It is not asceticism, not self-rejection or self-hatred, nor is it even the disowning of particular sins. It is to renounce the self as the dominant element in life. It is to replace the self with God-in-Christ as the object of affections. It is to place the divine will before self-will.” (New American Commentary, pg. 137)
• “A survey of 7,000 people, conducted by the sponsorship Research International in six countries found that the Shell Oil logo, the Mercedes badge and the five Olympic rings were recognized far more widely than the Christian Cross. McDonald’s golden arches and Shell’s glowing yellow shell were recognized by 84% of those questioned; while a mere 54% could identify the Cross.”
• God must be the directing force in the Christian life. Otherwise the life is not Christian.
• Our agendas can no longer take precedence. We are raised to be self-sufficient, strong-willed, and ambitious. God is not against those traits. What He desires is those traits be applied to the only mission that matters in life.