Who do men say that I am? (Mark 8:27)
It's a straightforward question and one that Christ's disciples eagerly answered. They gleefully rattled off the list: John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets. For the disciples, this was a good thing. To be compared to these men meant Christ was finding acceptance and reverence among the people. John had a ton of faith followers. Elijah was held in the highest regard as were the many prophets of old. However, Christ pressed them further:
Whom say ye that I am? (Mark 8:29)
We don't know how long it took Peter to stand to his feet and proclaim it, but we know that he was the only one. Moments earlier, the disciples were proud and happy to proclaim the news that they had heard. They liked being good reporters. However, when it came time to answer for themselves, only one had the unction to stand and proclaim what he knew in his heart:
Thou art the Christ. (Mark 8:29)
In Matthew 16:17-19, Jesus rewards Peter for his faithful answer, qualifying exactly what led him to this assumption. God had revealed the truth to Peter, and Peter acted boldly on that truth. As a result, he was promised the keys to the kingdom so that he could loose the riches of heaven on the earth and bind up the evil that enemy would try to purport on this world.
Peter must have felt pretty good about this. He had stepped out and said what God had given him and he was now getting a great privilege. It is understandable that this triumph would maybe go to his head and we see it do just a little while later:
Peter took him, and began to rebuke [Jesus]. (Mark 8:32)
What was Peter rebuking Jesus over? Christ had just proclaimed that he was going to suffer, be rejected and be killed and rise again (Mark 8:31). Peter must have thought to use the keys promised to him immediately and bind up this talk of sacrifice and death. Jesus couldn't die. There was too much to do, a Kingdom to establish, a world to win. Surely Christ was going to be there for all of that.
It didn't take long for Christ to put Peter's new position in perspective as Christ rebuked him, called him Satan and said he was caught up on the things of men and not God (v.33). How does one go from being blessed to turning into Beelzebub? How does one go from being honored for having spiritual vision to being accused of focusing on the temporal? Christ saw the great potential in Peter and rewarded him for it when he showed the promise. However, Christ knew that Peter was still a project in development. He still had the veil of the temporal shrouding his eyes and heart from seeing and feeling things from a perfect spiritual perspective. While Christ had given him the keys, he wasn't going to let blessing trump truth.
A Teachable Moment
While Peter erred in his new appointment, it offered Christ the opportunity to freshly align the perspective of his disciples. They were to deny themselves and take up the cause of Christ through sacrifice and suffering and follow after Jesus and his example(v. 34). He expounded on the importance and value of our soul (v. 36-37). In between these two statements, Christ hit them with the familiar statement:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35)
When we look at what is going on in this passage of scriptures, we see that Christ is testing his disciples to see where they are at in their understanding of him and his purpose. Throughout the test, like God does in all instances, he praises their achievements and works to correct them where they misstep. More importantly, this correction allows for us to see a greater depth to the call to lose our lives.
Previously, we had seen how Christ used the LYL call to focus his disciples on the great commission that was to come. He was preparing them for the harvest in which they were to labor and wanted them to know it was going to take an LYL commitment to see it through.
Now, we see the same LYL call being used regarding our understanding of what we are bringing to the masses. We must be sold out to our understanding of Christ's identity and our commitment to serve him for His purposes and not ours. It's not about what we are doing or how popular we become and its not about our opinions on what God should do. An LYL calling is giving yourself completely over to Christ and letting him mold you in His image and breathe into you His truth - The Truth.
It's a hard thing to sacrifice our ego, our personal perspectives, our rationale and our biases. Even when we have a good perspective on God, we can get sidetracked easily if we lean on our own understanding of God and his purposes instead of trusting in Him to guide us (Proverbs 3:5). However, if we are to fully understand God and serve Him the way He desires, we must lose our minds and let His mind be in us (Philippians 2:5). We must cede the desires of our hearts to His will and ways (Psalm 37:4). When we do that, we'll take our LYL calling to a deeper level of understanding and passion, and that will bring greater results when go and labor in the harvest.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.