Week 8: Chapter 8: But what about you; who do you say I am?

Monday:  Don’t Forget!                                                                    vv1-13

‘His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”’ v4

Cast your mind back a couple of weeks to Mark 6.  What do we see there?  Jesus feeding five thousand men (and women and children) on just five loaves and two fish!  Had you forgotten that?  Clearly the disciples had, because here we see a similar situation and instead of them saying to Jesus, “Well, we have seven loaves and a few fish.  Do your thing!” they start to worry.  How often are we like the disciples?  We see God act in our lives, see clear answers to prayer and yet within a very short time, we forget and start to worry.  Why not start writing down answers to prayer so that, whenever things are tough, you can read through and realize again that God is faithful?

Tuesday: Watch out!                                                                     vv 14-21

“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” v 15

This seems like an odd comment, doesn’t it?  What is the ‘yeast’ Jesus is talking about and what does it have to do with bread?  Well actually, nothing – about literal bread, anyway!  The Pharisees makes lots of extra laws to puff up God’s word – that is the yeast, which adds air but nothing else. Jesus, the living word, is the bread of life which satisfies completely and extravagantly as can be seen in the two miracles. We don’t need to worry about making mistakes (like the disciples forgetting the bread!) because it’s about grace; God’s free gift and not lots of rules.

Wednesday: A parable in action?                                                            vv22-26

‘Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.’ v25

This story has been described as a parable in action.  It’s not that Jesus couldn’t heal the man in one go; it’s that he wanted to teach his disciples (and us!) something through it.  Jesus healed the man in stages to show his disciples that it doesn’t all come at once; the understanding, the seeing clearly what the message is all about.  It’s the same for us.  In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul talks about seeing ‘but a poor reflection in the mirror’ and says that one day we shall see ‘face to face’.  We know some of the truth now and live by faith because of that truth but one day, we will see Jesus clearly as he really is and at that point, we will be like him!

Thursday:  Who do you say I am?                                              vv 27-30

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” v 29

What a question!  Notice that Jesus firsts asks the disciples what other people think before making it more personal: “What about you?”  He gets them to consider the other options first; John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets before asking them for their own opinion as people who have been with him for a while.  And they don’t disappoint him.  After being frustrated by their lack of understanding and their constant ‘missing the whole point’, finally they have begun to see who he really is.  He asks us the same thing, too.  “I know that you go to church and you spend time with others who have their own opinions, but what about you?  Who do you say I am?”  Well? What’s your answer?

Friday: Take up your cross!                                                         vv31-38

‘Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”’ v34

Well this is a bit of a blow to the disciples!  They’ve been waiting for the Messiah to come along and rescue them from the Romans and here’s Jesus not only telling them that he’s going to be killed but how, and it’s not pretty.  Then, he tells them that they need to take up their cross too.  How does this fit in with their idea of what life was going to be like when the Messiah came?  Not at all, I should imagine.  They probably saw him sorting out the Romans and then ruling in luxury, with them by his side.  Instead, he tells them that it’s going to be hard.  That their plans and ideas are going to need to be set aside and they are going to have to follow Jesus down roads they’d rather not go, carrying burdens they’ve not even thought about!  It’s not all bad news, though.  Jesus does speak plainly about his death but also the fact that he’s going to rise again.  He does speak quite clearly about how hard it’s going to feel but says that because of it, they will be saved.  We have that wonderful thing called hindsight!  We know that Jesus did rise again and that we will reign with him in glory one day and even then, we find it hard to ‘deny ourselves’ and ‘take up our cross’.  Just remember that whatever you may have to go through now, Jesus knows and understands and one day, you will see that you may not have ‘gained the world’ but it was all worth it to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”