The Gospel of Mark begins with the announcement of “Good News,” but it’s a bumpy ride at times. As Jesus is becoming more widely known, he explores with his disciples who others say he is (Elijah, John the Baptist, a prophet). Then Jesus asks them directly: “Who do you believe I am?” At first glance, it seems Peter is starting to understand: “You are the Messiah.” When Jesus explains the suffering and descent his journey will reflect, we see Peter’s perception of “Messiah” is more in line with a political messianic ruler. Peter can’t yet envision that Jesus has something very different in mind from what Peter expects. We are often no different. If we’re honest, we often long to be rescued from our pain and heartache by a “messiah” or other type of inaccurate image we have of God rather than being led through our struggle on a journey of descent and formation.

When Peter starts to rebuke Jesus, Jesus’ response is forceful: “Get behind me, Satan.” Mark’s treatment of Jesus’ experience in the desert is brief—only two verses (Mark 1:12-13)—and many scholars wonder if this experience with Peter is the one Mark chose to more greatly emphasize in reflecting the temptation Jesus experienced. It makes sense that in his humanity Jesus wouldn’t naturally be drawn to the path of descent—and a friend tempting him to embrace power and ascent wouldn’t help. That perspective makes you wonder if Jesus’ strong words were less about admonishing Peter and more about the intensity he felt to stay the course and the challenge in doing so. It stirs a compassion for the humanity of Jesus and the magnitude of the task he was embracing.

“You are setting your mind not on divine things but human things,” Jesus tells Peter. Consider if there is a place in your life in which God is inviting you to surrender into a different vision than what you had imagined.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 8:27-38

Log In to leave a comment
Lectionary Week
September 6–12, 2021
Scripture Overview

Through the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God shows the paths of righteousness and warns against the ways of destruction. The writer of Proverbs describes this as the voice of Wisdom crying out, yet some refuse to listen—to their peril. The psalmist rejoices in the law of the Lord, for God’s decrees teach us how to live well. Living a godly life includes paying attention to our speech. How can we, James asks, praise God with our lips and then curse others with those same lips? Peter is tripped up by his words in Mark. He declares Jesus to be the Messiah, yet in the next scene he recklessly rebukes Jesus for speaking of his death. Our words matter, and God desires purity and consistency.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Proverbs 1:20-33. How clearly do you hear Wisdom’s call? What prevents you from answering that call?
Read Psalm 19. Where in creation do you hear God speaking to you?
Read James 3:1-12. How do you use your words in wise ways? When do you struggle with your words?
Read Mark 8:27-38. Who do you say that Jesus is?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.