Monday, September 7, 2009

Mark 8:27-38 - The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Sunday, September 13, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:


27And Jesus and his disciples went out into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way, he started to ask his disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" 28And they said to him, saying, "John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others one of the prophets." 29And he started to ask them, "But you, who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to him, "You are the Christ." 30And he sternly gave them an order so that they might say nothing concerning him.  
31And he began to teach them that the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the rulers and the scribes and be put to death and after three days rise. 32And he spoke this freely. And after taking him aside, Peter began sternly to give him an order. 33And when he turned around and saw his disciples, he sternly gave Peter an order and said, "Get behind me, Satan, because you haven’t set your mind on God, but on people."

34And after he called to the crowd with his disciples, he said to them, "If any wish to come after me, then let him totally renounce himself and let him take up his cross and let him follow me. 35For if a person might want to save his self, then he will destroy it. But if a person will destroy his self for my sake and the good news, then he will save it. 36For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his self? 37For what might a person give in exchange for his self? 38For if a person might be ashamed of me and my word in this adulterous and sinful generation, then the son of man will also be ashamed of him when he might come in the glory of his father with the holy angels."


  1. Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
    28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
    29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
    Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
    30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

    This is one of those interesting passages where "Peter" can mean the early Apostle, or the Church. It is only the Church to whom the Christ has been revealed, and it is only the Church to whom Christ has given the keys to the kingdom. Thank You. I do not use facebook and will not. Karen is on it, but e-mail is as far as I go. CR

  2. Although I've haven't started my research, there seems to be some interesting things going on in the text.

    1. The same word that I translated "sternly gave an order" is used three times: twice by Jesus and once by Peter.

    2. There's a string of conditional statements (if...then).

    3. The Greek word that I've translated "self" is psychi, which more than "life" or "soul."

    4. There's a string of gar clauses, answering implied questions raised in prior statements.

    I find these things interesting, and as I research, I'll see how they work within the passage.

  3. The model that this text provides within the context of the other readings selected for our use next Sunday is the model, of course, of Jesus suffering on the cross, and here in Mark 8:27-38 we are urged to take up our cross and to follow after Jesus. Jesus is depicted here as the Christ, not a military Messiah who leads his followers boldly into battle against his enemies, but a Messiah who is the Suffering Servant of the Lord, the Christ who dies on the cross. Jesus, as this Messiah, at first cautions his followers to tell no one about his identity in order that he may tell as many of his fellow Jews as possible what he believes, that the Lord God is coming very soon to remove the Roman oppressors, that at that time only the Lord God will be ruling over them and the Romans will be gone from the land. Jesus, as this Messiah, tells his followers to worship and accept the absolute claims of authority only of the Lord God, and no longer to submit to the absolute claims of authority of the Romans. He tells his followers not to talk with outsiders about his identity as a Messiah figure, because he wants to reach as many people as possible with his message of suffering resistance before he dies on the cross.

    The Theology of this Mark 8:27-38 text and the dominant Theology of the entire New Testament tradition is a Theology of the Cross, a Theology of Jesus as the Christ crucified and risen from the dead. According to this Theology of the Cross, God did not intervene to prevent the death of Jesus on the cross, but God vindicated and validated him as the Christ by raising Jesus from the dead.

    What then is our task, this week and at all times? We are urged to develop, to apply to our own lives, and to proclaim a Theology of the Cross that is adequate and appropriate for our time and place. What does this mean? It is our task to follow the role model of Jesus crucified and raised from the dead. We are no longer passively to endure needless and meaningless suffering in ourselves and in other people, but instead to join vigorously and fearlessly to oppose needless suffering, to do everything that we possibly can to overcome poverty, hunger, oppression, exploitation, abuse, disease, and death. It is our task to "go to the wall," if necessary, for the sake of others. Is this not what is meant by the biblical injunction to "participate in the sufferings of Christ"? What a model to follow! What kind of example are we as pastors and worship leaders and members of our congregations providing? Is the priestly role of building up a congregation of power, prestige, and wealth the only role appropriate for us?

    There are many in the Church who proclaim and who live not a "Theology of the Cross," but instead a "Theology of Prosperity," a "Theology of Success," a message that says that if you, like us, accept Jesus into your hearts and no longer sin, you will be as happy and as successful as we are! The "Theology of Prosperity" is appealing to many people, to many who are poor and have no prosperity, as well as to many who have become wealthy and prosperous. It is not the Theology, however, of these texts, of Paul and the Four Gospels, of our biblical tradition.

    For a well-written and very understandable biblical "Theology of the Cross," amply illustrated with examples from his own experiences, see Philip L. Ruge-Jones, The Word of the Cross in a World of Glory (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008).

  4. Ed,
    Thanks for continuing to include me. I have preached on these three texts many times. There are really three separate pieces one could focus on. Were I not so involved in the Epistle lesson, I might try to preach all three Gospel segments at one time. It seems they do mark a turning point in Jesus' ministry. So perhaps a sermon on turning points (spiritual and otherwise) would be a good way to approach this text.