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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 8:27–9:1

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” (NRSV)

“Who do people say I am?”

Jesus’ disciples offer a few ideas—John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets. Nice tries, but not on the mark. Peter comes up with the answer that rings true: “You are the Christ.” Jesus asks them not to spread the word and then proceeds to tell them of his prediction of his death. “Don’t talk that way,” says Peter, but he gets called “Satan” by Jesus for reacting in a worldly way. I think Peter’s reaction is exactly what most of us would say or, at least, think. Friends don’t like it when friends talk about dark things like death coming in the near future.

Jesus goes on to preach a short sermon about what it means to be a true follower: losing your life for the gospel and giving up worldly things in order to save your soul. He tells them and us that there is much more to be gained than what this world has to offer in the way of things like possessions and even our life on earth.

Heavenly Father, creator and protector, hear my prayer to help me better understand your gospel messages. Help me look beyond the wonderful things you give us on earth to a life eternally with you. To you be all honor and glory. Amen

Written by Roger Wilson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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