A reading from the gospel according to Mark 8:27-35
27 Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
28 They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.”
30 Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.
32 He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
34 He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
Reflection: Who are you?
Good News: Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.
Have you ever paused for a moment to reflect on your identity as a person? Who are you really? Why were you born? What do people think about you? In the gospel reading above, Jesus too posed this question. It is not only part of our humanity to know ourselves. It is in fact a necessary question that we must all answer in order to grow spiritually.
We need to know who we are, not as a conceited exercise of promoting our self-worth, but to be grounded properly about our true nature and also to be aware of our mission on earth or our role in the scheme of things. Just as Jesus got the affirmation from Peter that he is the Christ, we need to get the affirmation that our true nature is spiritual, that we are sons and daughters of God.
Yet even as we know that we are children of God, we also become aware of our sinfulness. By our pride and wickedness, we rebelled against our loving Father. Yet He continues to love us. That is why, He sent His only son Jesus as the Christ, that is, the anointed one to redeem us.
Like Peter, may we recognize Jesus as our Messiah who will set us free from sin and death. Unlike Peter, may we never be called “Satan”, a person who becomes a hindrance to the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission.
Sermon Outline with commentary:
There are three main parts of the gospel reading above:
1) Revelation of Jesus as the Christ or Messiah
In this gospel reading, the identity of Jesus as the Messiah is revealed. After many months of being with His disciples, Jesus wanted them to state what they know about Him or how they understood Him. It is not that Jesus was unaware of the thoughts of His apostles. Being the Son God, Jesus of course knew what they were thinking. However, as a champion teacher, He wanted to elicit the correct answer in order for them to be aware of who He is and what His mission is all about. Thanks to Peter who brought out the correct answer although he did not understand the meaning of his answer.
2) Mention of death and suffering that awaits Jesus
The reading also tells us for the first time in Mark’s gospel that Jesus is going to suffer and die but He will rise on the third day. This comes as a shocking revelation to the apostles so much so that Peter got the nerve to rebuke his own master. How could the” anointed one” suffer and die? He is supposed to deliver the Israelites from the oppressive Roman rule and He is going to die? That will never happen! Peter got disappointed. Obviously, Peter and the other apostles misunderstood the meaning of the Christ.
From the gospel, we learn that the meaning of Satan is anyone who stands in the way of Jesus’ mission!
3) What does it take to be a disciple?
Jesus explains that a disciple must
a) Deny himself
b) Take up his cross
c) Follow Him.
In doing so, one necessarily lives the paradox of losing oneself for the sake of Christ but in the process finds himself.