Daily Devotion – February 23, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 8:31-38
8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
8:32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
8:33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
8:35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
8:36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
8:37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
8:38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

There comes a point in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus needs to be quite open with his disciples about what will probably happen as he continues his ministry. Jesus knows his earthly life will end in service to God’s work for him, but he has God’s promise that God will be with him no matter what happens. He even knows that if and when he is put to death, God will raise him up again. But, for many chapters, when an astonishing even occurs that might pre-figure the coming dangerous times or the coming glory, Jesus tells his disciples not to tell anyone.

But here, now, Jesus turns to thinking out loud with his followers about what will be happening. And Peter, certainly one of the leaders of the disciples, takes Jesus aside to rebuke him – to express disapproval for Jesus’s turn toward this dark and dire forecast. Just as quickly, Jesus rebukes Peter in return. Jesus knows that part of his duty as the teacher of this uncommon group of common men is to prepare them for the danger and darkness that goes with the life of the Messiah, and indeed will become a part of all of their lives. 

God is not just for fair weather. God is God even in, especially in, stormy weather.

I have the privilege of being a funeral celebrant. I get to sit with and listen to people in deep shock, people in deep denial, and people in deep faith. Even in profound sadness and grief there is something about people who know that God is walking or sitting beside them in times of trouble. They are like little lights that the other folks can turn on when darkness overwhelms them. And the people of faith are just grateful and happy when their lights are discovered to be helpful.

Jesus needed his disciples to know, just as he needs us to know, that whenever the dark times come, if we let go of our need for any other security because we are sure and certain of God’s love and promises, we will always have life in God. And, in truth, that is no dark message. That is the message of ultimate light and hope.

Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Help us to remember, when we might be afraid of the dark, that you, Lord, are bigger than anything else in the dark, and that we can cling to you.      Amen.