Questions Day 21 (3/5/13)
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What about you?
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Thank God for impulsive, spontaneous Peter! After Jesus asks the general question of "who do people say that I am?," Jesus asks the disciples directly, "What about you? Who do you say that I am? Peter is the first to answer the direct question, "You are the Messiah". If this were a one question test, Peter would get an "A", but this story involves Peter so you know there has to be more.
As Jesus begins his teaching, he loses Peter, literally. When Peter takes Jesus aside he began to "rebuke him". The word "rebuke" is "epitimaō" in Greek and its inflection here means "to admonish" or "to censure". In essence, Peter felt he needed to censure Jesus' message, but why?
In the Gospel of Mark, this passage is the first time Jesus speaks of his rejection, suffering, death and resurrection!
When our children were young and the house had become a complex maze of toys for an 11 year old and 7 year old, I would say in my best Dad voice of authority, "Kids, it is time to clean up your stuff and your rooms." The response was a mixture of groans and mumbling, interspersed with a plea of negotiations for more time. In the midst of those groans I would say in a normal tone of voice, "And if you can do both in the next hour I have $50 for each of you." Of course they never heard the offer because they were stuck on the first part of the message which they did not want to hear, "Clean your rooms".
Shortly after this event took place, this passage was the Gospel lesson in the lectionary. I thought I was quite insightful to draw the connection between Micah and Meagan's response with Peter's. I opened the sermon with the illustration above. Parents could all relate. However, the next time I issued the decree in my best Dad voice, ", "Kids, it is time to clean up your stuff and your rooms" the two conspirators were ready. The groans began, but only for a second, then there was absolute silence as I said, " And if you can do both in the next hour I have $50 for each of you." I was out a $100!
Peter couldn't hear the great news of teaching because he was startled by the beginning of the message which contradicted what he believed about the Messiah. It was so contrary to his expectations that he could not hear "and three days later rise again.” Unlike Micah and Meagan, who waited for the rest of my message because they knew what was coming, Peter couldn't wait. He was unable to hear the full message of Jesus' self description.
What about you? Who do you say that Jesus is? Can you hear the whole message? Hang in there through the rejection and death, resurrection is coming.
Albert Schweitzer closed his classic study, The Quest of the Historical Jesus with this moving word.
“He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.
(Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus p. 403)