27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 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. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

34 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. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:27-38

This incident and its repercussions have opened up to us at least a part of the reason that Christians are the greatest danger and hindrance to the coming of the kingdom of God. Against the backdrop of Caesarea Philippi, representing the way people think and behave when they reject the “tree of life” and eat the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, Jesus asked His disciples the most crucial question they would ever have to answer. “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter’s response was, in essence, absolutely correct but, as he later revealed, its content was way off the mark. It’s the content of that confession that validates or invalidates our confession. From Peter’s declaration, Jesus launched into a revelation of the Father’s agenda for Him, exposing Peter’s contradicting the content of the confession he had just made.

True discipleship not only embraces Jesus’ essence and nature as the Son of God. It also fully embraces the implications of that confession both for Jesus and for himself.

Peter refused to embrace Jesus’ yoke – the unconditional love of God that endures humiliation, disgrace, rejection and ridicule in order to overcome the worst man can do, through compassion and forgiveness. He still espoused violence, force and control as the way of victory. He was embarrassed by Jesus’ revelation of suffering and death as the way of overcoming the world. Jesus repudiated that way as the way of Satan.

God’s love is all-inclusive and all-embracing. He opens His arms to anyone who will repent and return (tefilah, teshuvah). By contrast, Jesus said that discipleship is all-exclusive. He is embarrassed by and repudiates anyone who refuses His yoke and chooses to continue on under the devil’s yoke. Such a person is “anti-Christ”, constituting a danger to the growth of God’s kingdom because he misrepresents his Messiah and brings the spirit of the world into the church, and the name of Jesus into disrepute.82

Luella Campbell

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