I got my act together and composed a new post for the "Opening the Bible" blog at i.ucc. It's about Peter's answer to Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" and how I think we give Peter some undue credit for "getting it." Here's: But didn't I get the answer right?
Peter answered the question correctly. He was proud of himself for finally getting it. And then he was confused-- again. Was his astounding answer really correct to begin with?
In this week's focus Bible passage from Mark 8:27-38, Jesus asked the disciples what the "word on the street" was when it came to who he was. They gave the standard answers about Jesus being John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets.
That's not bad company to be compared to.
But then Jesus asked who the disciples said that he was.
Peter called him the Christ -- the Son of God. (The Son of God part is in Matthew 16 -- but not Mark 8)
We generally read this part -- before Jesus called Peter Satan and told about how he (Jesus) was going to suffer and die and rise again -- as a time where Peter "got it" and identified Jesus as he really was. (and is.)
I think Peter was confused, however.
When he called him "the Christ" (Greek), Peter used the same term as "Messiah". (Hebrew) Both words mean "anointed one" and usually were used to refer to the Kings of Israel. The Kings were powerful and they ruled absolutely. Weakness was not something people associated with a King -- an anointed one. Suffering and death would certainly not go with the title.
Peter called Jesus "the Christ" and "The Son of God" (Hmmm . . . a title given to the Egyptian Pharaohs, no less) in a way that called on Jesus to take over and maybe even set things right with military coup. (Hey -- David did it -- why not you, Jesus?)
It's no wonder Jesus called Peter out and set the disciples straight about what was coming. No military action -- no storming the castle either. (I love that movie "The Princess Bride") Jesus was going to suffer and die and rise again. And further -- Jesus followers were going to have to deny themselves and be authentic followers of Jesus.
Do we expect the same of Jesus today -- for him to come in and take over things and make everything better? What if Jesus has something different in mind? What if what Jesus really wants us to do is to authentically and truly follow him and to continue to follow the greatest two commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor?
What if in our search for the right answers and the right way to do things we're missing the point just like Peter did?