Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mark 8:31-38

By Josh Taylor

Jesus speaks plainly and says that the Son of man must suffer and be killed. Now for you and me who get to read the end of the gospel where we read about Jesus getting crucified this makes sense. We think, “of course Jesus is going to suffer and be killed” because we can read on in the story. But to the disciples this doesn’t make any sense. Peter in fact is outraged to the point where he begins to rebuke Jesus.

Why does Peter do this? Why does he tell Jesus off? The title used for Jesus in this passage is the “Son of Man”.

Jesus is speaking to Jews who have in mind the Scriptures of the Hebrew Bible. The prophet Daniel uses the title the “Son of Man” and on hearing this title the echo they would have in mind is the way Daniel used this term.

Daniel 7 says this:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Here the Son of Man is one who is given authority, glory and sovereign power. What does this look like? Well surely it doesn’t mean suffering many things and being killed! Because of their expectations the disciples just don’t get it! Peter gets it wrong and Jesus rebukes him. We so easily get it wrong too. So like Peter, many of us exclaim: this can’t be. God should act like “this” or like “that” shouldn’t he? We try and domesticate God. We try to tame him.

Jesus breaks their expectations to pieces. God does something different in Jesus. The glory, authority and power of Jesus is displayed in his suffering, death and resurrection.

The challenge to us this Lent is to see that God's kingdom doesn't come through domination or coercion but rather through the suffering love of Jesus who gives himself for the world. We are called to follow this Jesus with everything. Lent is a reminder of that call to give our whole selves over to him.

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