Mark 8: 27-35
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
He then asked, “And you – what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
You give up time for your children and grandchildren. Parents say it was worth it for the joy in their face. A person goes to work for the poor and gives up a better job. You want to do more study and know you have to leave some leisure aside that you like. The Paralympics men and women sacrifice a lot to train and to do well. But something else comes through for us when we give up. If it’s real and true we get back a lot. It seems strange for Jesus to say – lose your life to save it. He’s talking about losing good things, to get better.
This can be a big challenge in a culture today that is very ME conscious. We can find that personal concerns take total precedence, without much care for others, so long as it does not interfere with them. But as long as one person on this globe is hungry or homeless or seeking refuge, the work of Jesus is never done. Losing life and saving life with Jesus is a call to community, to neighbourhood and the world!
If my own life is my main concern, my circle of care extends just as far as myself, ignoring care in a sustained way for the stranger or the outcast.