Mark 8:27-9:1 is a section of critical importance on Mark’s gospel. Jesus asks His disciples who they say He is and Peter correctly responds that Jesus is the Christ. However, this moment of triumph is short-lived. When Jesus tells Peter that He will suffer, be killed, and rise on the third day, Peter rebukes Jesus. When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Peter had images of victory in his mind and Jesus’ description of His impending death sounded like certain defeat. Peter would not allow Jesus to ruin his expectations of Jesus’ coming triumph with prophecies of His impending death. Jesus’ response seems unnecessarily harsh to most modern ears. Why didn’t Jesus simply take Peter aside and explain that he was mistaken? Why call him Satan?
Jesus knew the seriousness of Peter’s misunderstanding. If Jesus did not submit to the Father’s plan by willingly laying down His life, He would not be able to accomplish the purpose for which He was sent. Jesus’ death and resurrection were not incidental parts of His ministry. They were the aspects of His ministry through which God accomplished our salvation. They are the parts of Jesus’ life on earth that give all other aspects of His life meaning and eternal significance.
Taking up a cross and engaging in self-denial were not aspects of God’s will for Jesus alone. Yes, Jesus was the only one worthy to die on the cross and accomplish our salvation. But, Jesus makes it clear that self-denial and taking up a cross are necessary acts for anyone who would follow after Him. To gain our lives, we must lose them. Conversely, if we gain the whole world, but forfeit our souls, we have lost everything. As we continue to journey through the season of Lent, we are reminded of that we are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus Christ. Doing so will often feel like death, but in reality this is the only path by which we might experience that which is truly life.
Mark 8:27-9:1 (ESV):
27 And 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?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”