Peace be with you!
What kind of reputation do you have? Your reputation might be something silly or something serious. I have a reputation for crashing into things. I do not know why. My house only has two walls and a door with holes in them, and yet I have crashed into and moved couches, tables, and chairs in my electric wheelchair. (I cannot help it that the tables and chairs were in my way!) And do not listen to my seminary friends, who will claim I drove straight into a giant red planter coming out of Greek class one day! Ok, maybe it is true. Maybe I deserve my nickname, “Crash,” after rolling my brother’s go-kart, but I do not always crash into things – only when I am tired or upset.
The passage in Mark for this week deals with Jesus’ reputation. Jesus has been with his disciples a few years, and he knows people are talking about him. Jesus asks his disciples what his reputation is among the people (Mark 8:27). The disciples say people think he is John the Baptist, Elijah, or a prophet (Mark 8:28). These answers are not so out of line. Jesus and John the Baptist both have the same message or the same good news. The Old Testament says Elijah will appear on the last day. People can tell that Jesus, like the prophets, is called by the Lord. There is some logic to his reputation.
Then Jesus asks, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answers him, “You are the Messiah’” (Mark 8:29, NRSV). You would think Jesus would be overjoyed to be recognized as the Messiah. However, “Messiah” means two different things to Peter and Jesus. To Peter, the Messiah will purify the world of sins, make Israel the world’s superpower, and bring peace and hope into the world using military power. By calling Jesus the Messiah, Peter is telling Jesus he has big expectations for him.
Jesus rebukes Peter because of his worldly expectations. Peter has half of the story right, but misses the central point of what the Messiah is all about. Jesus will purify the world through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection, not by condemning the unclean. Jesus will make Israel the world’s superpower by extending a relationship with God the Father to everyone in the world, not by separating out the Israelites as God’s chosen people. Jesus will bring peace and hope into the world by giving those who come to believe in the Triune God forgiveness and grace, not by waging war against the Romans.
Yet Jesus goes on to explain that we must follow Jesus to the cross. We must die with Jesus daily by confessing our sins and denying ourselves of our old ways. We have to turn our backs on Satan to follow Jesus to the cross of forgiveness. We must lose ourselves in order to find new life. The glory is hidden beneath the cross.
I may have the reputation of crashing into things, but I also have a reputation as a true Christian. I pray daily, confessing my sins and thanking God for the many blessings he bestows on me. I welcome everyone I meet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Now I am not saying I am a perfect Christian. I fall every day, but I confess my sins and die and rise with Jesus daily.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for allowing us to follow you to the cross. Help us to turn away from our old ways and follow you. Thank you for inviting us into a relationship with you. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What is Jesus’ reputation today?
2. Who do you say Jesus is?
3. How do you follow Jesus to the cross?