“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?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.” (Mark 8:27-30)
Who am I? Who are you? What is our relationship to each other? These are some of the beginning questions in any relationship. Knowing who we are and who the other is, is very important if the relationship is going to be successful. And it is no different, or not much different, when we are in relationship to God.
We need to know who we are, what is our place in the world, what do we want to accomplish? I can well imagine that Jesus helped his disciples find the answers to those questions. Then we we have to discover who God is, and who Jesus is; and what Their Identities mean to us. For God and Jesus are not the same for each person; surprised? Do not be, beloved reader. My understanding and image of God may not be the same, or at all the same as yours. And that does not mean that your image of God or my image of God is wrong; the same goes for Jesus. We have four different and distinct gospels that present different images of Jesus. That is the blessing of the Divine, that each person can find within the Triune Divine an aspect that speaks to them and meets their needs.
But at this moment in the gospel of Mark Jesus is beginning to reveal himself as the Messiah and teaching his disciples what that might mean for them.
“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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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.” (Verses 31-33)
But let me give you a caution; if we hold on too closely to what we think our image of God and Jesus should be, we will short ourselves the experience of growing in faith and understanding. Peter wanted Jesus to be, and stay, as Peter needed him to be. Once Peter had a hold on who Jesus was, and could be to him personally, he did not want to let go of that image and hold on Jesus. But Jesus was meant for more things than Peter could imagine at this time.
“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. 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. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 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.” (Verses 34 – 38)
There are many things in our lives that we need to let go of in order to grow in our faith. The words of Jesus as the writer of Mark has recorded them exhorts us to let go of what we think is important for our human lives. It takes a great deal of faith to let go – faith that we are letting go in order to receive something better. Not everyone can make that leap; some make small leaps. And some make very large leaps, letting go of everything to go and do as Jesus has called them.
May you beloved reader know who you are, come to know who God and Jesus Christ is, and let go of what holds you back in following our Lord God. Selah!