The Messiah

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 answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8: 27-38


Really? To Peter?
Wisdom Teacher maybe; friend, commander, co-conspirator,
confounder, eye-opener, spiritual director, divine prodder,
midwife of the New Life—but not a Christological assertion.

The Messiah was a mighty warrior who would liberate Israel
from Roman oppression. A kind of Superhero.
Jesus might have quoted Princess Bride:
“You keep saying that word, but I do not think it means
what you think it means.”

To Jesus being God’s anointed (“Messiah”)
meant giving oneself over to the power of God’s grace alone;
being vulnerable, even powerless.
Liberating us not from a political situation
but from sin, from death, fear, addiction and delusion—
freeing us from what traps us away from God.
It wasn’t about conquering but standing with the oppressed,
embodying the prophetic call for justice
by embodying the suffering of God in the poor.
It meant the cross. Triumph hidden in defeat.
Losing one’s life, trusting resurrection.

So Jesus tells the disciples to avoid that Messiah talk.
Can we do that? Set aside being on the winning side,
being “saved?” Can we stand instead with the oppressed,
let the blessing of the poor in spirit be our only blessing?
Let the grace of God be our only power?
“If any want to become my followers,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me….”

Jesus says “Get behind me.” And he starts walking.

(Unfolding Light, September 10, 2021)

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