“You are the Messiah.” – Peter (Mark 8:29)
Peter knew this much but he didn’t understand what that meant. It seems Peter had something in mind other than what Jesus had in mind when it came to defining the role of the Messiah. The Jewish people had been looking for a deliverer…a king. When the king came he would judge the nations and put Israel back on top. No more Caesar. No more Herod. No more temple intrigue…no more Pharisees.
And what about the 12? Surely they would represent the 12 tribes in the royal court of the Messianic kingdom. Peter and the others have a lot riding on the Messiah thing. Was Peter’s view of things an Israel nationalist view? (Acts 1:6 might help us to see that even later they still expected that).
Jesus clarifies what it means for him to be Messiah, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this…” – Mark 8:31-32
Peter rebukes Jesus for this kind of talk (8:32). He rebukes him because Jesus has seemingly put on the wrong jersey. He is playing for the wrong team and scoring the wrong kind of points. This isn’t how it is supposed to go! He is supposed to rule over these people, not be killed by them! No, no, no!
When we find ourselves telling God this is not the way it is supposed to go, we need to stop and ask ourselves why it is we have come to this conclusion.
The conversation between Peter and Jesus reminds us that despite our attempts, Jesus will not be a co-opted Messiah. He will not be co-opted by nationalism, racism, greedism, etc. He will not be used as leverage to hoist up other agendas or score points against whoever your perceived enemy is.
It is Peter who needs to change jerseys, not Jesus.
If Jesus ever seems to be playing for the wrong team or just doesn’t seem to want to take our side we must consider whether or not we are forcing Jesus into something he cannot be forced into, which usually involves the agendas we have too heavily invested ourselves in that God is just not that interested in.
A very good post. The problem, however, is that nationalism, racism and greed simply mold and cast a Jesus in their image already wearing their Jersey. This is the “Jesus” that is brought to church with them on Sundays, the “Jesus” that allows them to not spend too much time on meekness, on tenderness; the “Jesus” that allows them to compartmentalize the Lord’s table and the voting booth. It saddens me to see so many good people who have been whipped up into such a frenzy that they have reworked “Jesus” into an Old Testament judge blessing the “big and bad”. It has ruined their Christian influence and significance with those on the fringe for generations to come.
I would like to add that the conservative church, even those who consider themselves as “unifying moderates”, have been enablers in that many of them have allowed racism, nationalism and greed in the church to define these terms for the sake of unity. But the silence has been simply interpreted as swooning over their muscle.