(Jesus) asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”—Mark 8:29
I’ve had a lot of nicknames in my life. Some that stuck with me for a while and others that were used for a week at camp. My High School Social Studies teacher called me Buffalo Guy. My name in German Class was Boris. Most of my friends called me Dow. I grew up on a farm that had buffalo, so the nickname made sense. My last name is Dow that one’s easy and I don’t remember how the name Boris was chosen for me in German class. Those nicknames were fine to me but I will admit that I did have a nickname or two that will not be repeated in this article.
As Jesus’ ministry progresses, the people are trying to figure out who he is. And, they see his attributes and so they compare him to others who had that attribute. Some thought he was “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” But Jesus wasn’t as interested in what others thought. He wanted to know what his disciples would say about him when put on the spot.
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” This answer is both completely right and completely wrong. It is true that Jesus is the Messiah but the Messiah isn’t what Peter and the disciples expect. And so this moment of recognition gets turned on its head in a hurry. Because when Jesus tells his disciples what will happen in the days to come, Peter tries to rebuke him. It is this moment when Peter is called “Satan” or tempter. He wants Jesus to be or do something that he is not called to be or do.
In baptism, we have been named children of God. This name doesn’t guarantee safety or an easy life. It means that Jesus will at times call us out of our comfort zones and into the places where his presence is needed. Watching Jesus suffer at the hands of others will not be easy for the disciples to watch. As we serve God in our daily lives we too may see suffering that we wouldn’t otherwise see. Through the cross, God promises to be present in our suffering and in the suffering of those around us. This is just a part of what it means for Jesus to be called “Messiah.”
God’s Peace, Pastor Steve