October Reading from The Message
In the middle of the gospel of Mark, Jesus asks a question that every human must ultimately answer. “Who do you think I really am?” Do our lives reflect our answer to that question? Jesus challenges the disciples, and every Bible reader to the end of time, with the implications of this crucial question.
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
28 “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
29 He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
30-32 Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
32-33 But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
38 “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”
This Question and This Answer
What are you saying about me?” Jesus asked Peter.
“You are the Christ, the Messiah,” he answered (Mark 8:29).
In Mark’s telling of the gospel, he put this question and this answer at the exact center of his story. Literarily, it is at the center of Mark’s Gospel, just as it is experientially at the center of our lives. Every line of narrative and every detail of life converge at this point: random events, unfinished projects, restless meanderings, discouraging failures, disappointing successes—these are all funneled into the narrow way of this question and this answer.
God puts the question to each one of us and waits for our answer.
He is here to be answered, not questioned: Will you worship the God who made you?
He is here to be recognized, not looked for: Will you believe in the God who loves you?
He is here to be received, not bargained with: Will you accept the God who saves you?
Eugene Peterson: In Between The Man and The Message
Take a reflective look into the life and beliefs of pastor and author Eugene Peterson. Learn more about Eugene on our About the Pastor page.