Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mark 8: 27-33
“ Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.” A change of place prepares for something significant in Mark’s Gospel, especially here as Jesus and his disciples begin the journey to Jerusalem. Responding to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” Peter, speaking for the others, says “You are the Christ.” The Messiah. Matthew’s gospel later adds “you are the Son of living God.”
Mark’s first readers from the church of Rome would certainly note the place of confession. Caesaria honors Caesar. They would also recognize that Peter, after acknowledging the divine mission of Jesus falls into thinking “as human beings do” after Jesus announces he will suffer greatly, be rejected, die and rise again. How easily it is to fall into “human thinking” when faced with suffering.
In tomorrow’s reading, Jesus says “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark’s Roman readers would also recognize–as we should too – that Jesus speaks to all, as well as to his disciples. We are all on the journey to Jerusalem.
Today and tomorrow are crucial passages from Mark’s Gospel.