The Crucial Question

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 8:31-38 represents the first of Jesus’ three predictions that he will suffer, be rejected, and die.  These predictions come in the midst of the disciples’ inability to understand who Jesus really is and what his mission on earth is really all about.  It is remarkable that after each one of these three predictions, there is a story making it clear the disciples still “do not understand.”  In fact, we have to go back to 8:17 where Jesus already asks the disciples a series of questions revealing their incomprehension of who he is.  That tendency finds its climax in the final question of 8:21, “Do you not yet understand?”  The irony is that Peter gave the correct answer to the question who Jesus is when he says in 8:29, “You are the Christ.”  But Peter does not tell us what it means that Jesus is the Christ, and when he rebukes Jesus for predicting his suffering, rejection and death (8:32), it is clear that he has no idea what it means.  The difficulty lies in associating Jesus with self-denial, taking up our own cross, and losing your life as a way of following Jesus (8:34-35).  It is just so contra the natural expectations for victory and glory.  So, it is also the crucial question for you and me this season of Lent.  Who do we say He is?  And how are we misled by conventional wisdom, natural inclination, and popular piety to truly understand what this means?

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