Mark 8:31–9:1 (ESV)
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
As I mentioned in the previous devotional, Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah marks a shift in the emphasis of Mark’s Gospel. Things are going to change, and they do right away as we see here in how Jesus interacts with His disciples. Now things are going to be straightforward as Jesus speaks plainly to His disciples. The disciples, and Peter, in particular, have just come to the point of acknowledging that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and Jesus doesn’t deny that assertion.
We can only imagine the thoughts of the disciples at this time. Perhaps they are beginning to speculate about the next steps that Jesus will take to establish His kingship. First, aligning people to the cause, then, taking over the Temple, and finally, Jesus will become the king that everyone expected, the king who will restore Israel to her formal glory and establish the kingdom of God in the way they’ve always expect the kingdom of God to be established.
But before the disciple’s speculations can carry them away, Jesus tells them the stunning news; it’s not going to look like that, in fact, it’s going to look strangely opposite of their expectations, in fact, at one point it will look like the other side has won. But then Jesus will be raised from the dead and things will look radically different.
The disciples, and Peter specifically, are struggling to grasp what Jesus is telling them and so Peter, in his usual fashion, speaks up without thinking, and the response of Jesus is swift and sure, “Get behind Me.”
It’s a call for Peter and for all who entrust their lives to Jesus, to get behind Jesus and follow Him. God’s ways are not our ways and God’s kingdom is going to be established in a radically different way than the way we anticipate and expect but not at all out of line with what the Lord has promised throughout the Old Testament (Ezekiel 34.23-24—one example).
It seems strange really, what Jesus says to the crowd and His disciples here. To follow Jesus will cost you everything but it will also give you everything in return; hold onto your life and you’ll lose it, but let go, and you will find not just life, but life to the fullest (John 10:10).
Here’s the thing that we must realize in what Jesus is saying here; it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Did you notice that? Halfway or partial commitments are not an option, Jesus never gave us those choices.
We are to follow Jesus, wherever He goes, wherever He leads us.
And why not follow Jesus? Just stop and think about His life for a moment, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. In Jesus, we see the love that God has lavished on us through His Son, and in Jesus, you will truly find a Lord worth everything that you are.
The truth is that we will all follow someone or something. What or who are you following? Only Jesus is worthy of all that you are.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers!