Daily Devotion – September 24, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 8:27-38
8:27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
8:28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
8:29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
8:30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
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.”

Here is a moment of taking stock. In this story Jesus wants his disciples to have an honest conversation about the mission they are doing with him, about what is first and about what isn’t.

It all goes along well enough – naming who they are and who Jesus is. And then Jesus tells them honestly what they can expect in the coming weeks and months. Jesus is unfolding these things because the disciples need to know what they will be up against. Peter honestly discourages Jesus, privately, from this honest revelation of what is coming. And Jesus honestly disagrees with Peter, publicly, and speaks to the disciples as well as the crowd, letting them know the cost of following Him.

If we put God and God’s work first, as Jesus did, then our own lives HAVE to be second. It’s that simple. Jesus gives his own life over to God’s purposes, and he will be killed, but he has placed his life in God’s care, and he will be raised to life again. Faith isn’t for the timid who never take a risk to do God’s work. Faith is for the ones who are afraid but who trust God to give them the courage and wisdom they need.

Remember Indiana Jones, in The Last Crusade movie, when he must cross a bottomless chasm to reach the Holy Grail? There is no visible way across. He will absolutely fall to his death.  But Indy has been told to step out in faith. And he does step forward, without seeing a way across but believing he must go. And his feet find a solid rock bridge. In doing such a thing he is following Jesus’s prediction: he who loses his life for my sake will save it.

When we are afraid to speak of the wonders of God and the power of the Gospel, we must turn to God who will supply our courage and even the words to use. The footing will be there. We can step out in confidence knowing we are second and God’s work is first.

Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Help us to trustingly know and to do what you call us to do.  Amen.