Mark 8:27-33 27 Jesus and his disciples went into the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]
[Image: “Creative Commons Son of Man (Magritte)” by Williamo! is licensed under CC BY 2.0]
Ruminating after Mark 8:27-33
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Answering that question in the positive seems to be the accepted mantra for entrance into the church. The long robes have suggested that Peter was rebuked as a matter of timing. Many 1st Century Jews expected a political Messiah who would overthrow Rome and re-establish a kingdom like the one ruled over by David. To attach that expectation to Jesus would put his mission in jeopardy. The Messiah’s identify was to be safeguarded until it was revealed in grand fashion as an effect of the Easter celebration — that is, the “Messianic secret” would be rendered null and void after the resurrection. Then everyone would know that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ) and the Jews would be restored with their own kingdom — this time under God’s rule. NOT SO!
There is a much simpler answer to the question of what is the meaning of Yeshua’s* rebuking Peter. Yeshua did not accept the title of Messiah. In no way did the title “Messiah” fit with his mission. His was indeed a “messianic” mission, but he was not the Messiah.
Immediately after Peter’s effusive answer — “You are the Christ” — Yeshua* began to elaborate on the meaning of “The Human One”* [“the son of the man” in the Greek text]. This was the title Yeshua* claimed for himself. The mission of The Human One* was to live fully in God and to serve as a catalyst for all human beings to live fully in God — that is in the Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice*.
So, why not accept the title, Messiah? Quite simply, the “Messiah” (“Christ”) is an elitist concept and Yeshua’s* mission was to establish a “flat” system that did not rank power, economics, or social status ahead of human need. The Commonwealth* that Yeshua* anticipated empowered all individuals to access the inner power of messianism — that is, to become whole, mature persons who lived in communities of peace and justice which fostered continual human development. This paradigm change was based on the relocation of God from “out there” to in here.”
For Peter and the disciples to attach the Messiah label to Yeshua’s mission was to totally misunderstand what he was about. To bandy the title about publicly was to sabotage his mission.
Let’s admit it. Many (most) in the church are elitists. Many (most) in the church assume that Jesus Christ is a superior being — divine, savior of the world. Many (most) in the church believe that Christianity is superior to any other belief system. Many (most) in the church contend that believing in Jesus as the Christ is necessary for salvation. Many (most) in the church are uncomfortable with suffering and powerlessness. Many (most) in the church believe that a powerful intervention by God will overcome the powers that be.
The Human One isn’t as sexy a title as Messiah. Egalitarianism isn’t as sexy as elitism. But the reality is that Yeshua understood himself to be the Human One and he understood his mission as establishing, in God’s name, an egalitarian community comprised mainly of the lower classes (the poor and the dispossessed). That has been a hard pill for much of the church to swallow. Have we anything to learn about this? It would seem so!