Weekly Reflections 9-9-15

 Texts for Sunday September 13

 Isaiah 50:4-9a
 Psalm 116:1-9
 James 3:1-12
 Mark 8:27-38

You can read these texts with the Oremus Bible Browser.

If I remember nothing else from my seminary class on Mark, I remember that this moment in the Gospel is the big turning point. Up to this point in our story, Jesus was baptized, was traveling, getting followers, preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons, feeding thousands. #JesusHeals was trending and many people crowded around him. He did, of course, tell the people who were healed to keep their mouths shut.  And his disciples seemed flummoxed about his identity and ministry most of the time.  But he was a big deal in the neighborhood.

So, this turning point begins with just his disciples around him. He asks the first, the easier question “Who do people say that I am?” Then he moved on to a harder one “But who do you say that I am?”   It was one of those moments when people look down, squirm a bit, and hope against hope someone else raises their hand.  And as usual, Peter did (whew).  “You are the Messiah”.  Well, yes and no.  Jesus was sent by God to bring freedom to the captives. But, Jesus was not an imperial Messiah who was here to overthrown Rome.  So he STERNLY told the disciples not to say that again….at least until they can understand what shape Jesus’ messiah-ship was going to take.

This is the point where Jesus turns toward Jerusalem, toward rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection. Peter, probably still hoping that his vision of the Rome-crushing Messiah was accurate, argues with Jesus. And Jesus even more sternly rebukes Peter.  

Then Jesus calls the crowd to him and describes this vision of his mission to them as well. If you follow Jesus, you are heading toward Jerusalem. You know Jerusalem, the place where Jesus will suffer because he reached out to those who are outcast, unclean, marginalized – the people who societal norms say to stay away from. To follow Christ is to move into the suffering of those who are broken, oppressed and marginalized.

So what do we do with all this? We are faced with the same question as the disciples: who do you say that I am? What is your hashtag for Jesus? How do your expectations of Messiah match with Jesus’ understanding?  And are you going to pick up that cross?

This conversation continues through more chapters of Mark, so you have plenty of time to think about all this.

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, September 13, for more ways to reflect on these verses.


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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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