Mark 8:27-38

Mark 8-27-38

An Activity

You will need scratch-art card, either rectangles or crosses. This is available from craft stores or you can make your own. Cover white card all over with wax crayon in different colours. Then paint over with a thick mixture of black acrylic paint and washing up liquid, and leave it to dry.

Give out the card and some chalk. You can write or draw on the black card and that’s fine, but there is so much more that you can’t see. Give out cocktail sticks / toothpicks and and let people scrape away the black top coat to reveal the colourful layer behind it. This is what the card is really all about, if only we have eyes and to see it.

A Reflection

You can understand it. On the face of things he was talking nonsense, balderdash, utter gibberish. What planet was Jesus on?

His ministry was going well, everyone was talking about him, he was trending on Twitter – so why on earth did he try to shut people up when they had finally worked out who he was? And why, oh why, did say all that rubbish about getting in trouble with the law and being killed when there was still so much work to do. Jesus clearly wasn’t seeing straight.

Well, of course, it was Peter who wasn’t seeing straight really. The key thought is the second part of v33: For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Peter is looking at the situation with understandably human eyes, but there is far, far more going on than he, or we, can see.

It reminds me of a fab bit of Elisha’s life. He was being chased by some king who was cross with him (an occupational hazard, it seems) and his servant  was terrified that there were hoses and chariots of the king all around waiting to capture Elisha.

Elisha’s response was to give his servant a glimpse of what was really going on. That which the servant could see was only a tiny part of the whole story.

Elisha said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15ff

In a theatre, we may think that the action on stage is all that there is, because it is all that we can see, but there is so much more going on than just the actors and the scenery. For Elisha, God lifted a corner of a curtain and gave a glimpse into the backstage world, the real world going on all around the visible world. There was a whole ocean beyond his little rock pool! The real world of angelic power was what was really in control of Elisha’s fate, not the petty king, and it’s that world that Jesus had in mind when he told Peter off.

Peter was living in the rock pool. Jesus was planning for the ocean. It is understandable. The visible world is is what we see (the clue is in the name) and it can be hard to ‘set our minds on the things of God’ when we can’t see them. We can ask God to help us see, to give us eyes that view our world from his perspective. We can ask to peek backstage like Elisha did.

We get other glimpses of it at Jesus’ baptism, and at the transfiguration, and we will do well to keep this greater reality in mind as we walk through this visible, but passing, world.

A Prayer

Lord God of eternity,
Creator and sustainer of every atom and every galaxy,
Commander of life and death,
King of all powers in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
May we learn to see beyond our passing world to your eternal world.
May we have hearts that are pulling towards our real home with you,
So that every moment of our life here is lived to your praise and glory.


Bible Text

Mark 8:27-38

And 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 told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

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. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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.”

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. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”

English Standard Version

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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