What is the most important question anyone could answer? Marissa Levin CEO of Successful Culture, said the most important question anyone could answer is this: “What are my values?” In essence, she is wanting people to consider “What am I living for? What matters to me most?”
It’s a good question.
Marissa Levin knows that if you can get down to the desire level of your heart, then you can truly assess who you are as a human and what you are living for.
Jesus knows this too. We’ve been walking around Galilee with Jesus the last three weeks and we’ve seen him walk on water, heard Him tell stories, seen him cleanse lepers and heal people. We’re learning from Mark about what Jesus did and said and how this supports Mark’s radical claim in 1:1 that Jesus IS the Son of God. Mark also shows us that people had varying responses to the words and actions of Jesus. Some embrace Him, some reject Him and some aren’t quite sure what to do with Him.
But on the way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples who people were saying that He was. The disciples replied, that some believed him to be John the Baptist. Others believed him to be Elijah or one of the other prophets. But that wasn’t really what Jesus was after. After the letting them wrestle with the question and giving them space to discuss all the people’s considerations, Jesus to the disciples and asked him the most important question anyone could ever face
“But who do you say that I am?”
This section of the Gospel of Mark is going to explore and challenge our current paradigm of what it means to follow Jesus. We see Jesus’s journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, the holy city, where God’s Messiah, the long-awaited Saviour, would be crowned and established as the true King of the world. But along the way, Jesus begins to teach about what it means for Him to be the Messiah, and to be blunt, the disciple, still don’t understand.
On the one hand, we have Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ. That’s a good thing. But on the other hand, Jesus immediately tells them to not tell anyone and that He is going to die. You can imagine Peters dilemma. “You’re going to be king! We’re not going to let you die!”
Jesus’ reply is instructive for what it means to be God’s Messiah. “Get behind me satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)
The reason Jesus is puzzling to the disciples, and so many of us, is because human minds default to ‘the things of men.’ These things include personal and tribal emphasis on the self: self-preservation, self-gratification, self-justification, and ultimately self-exaltation. In essence, whatever is going to provide me the most benefit and cost me the least. Jesus’ response is “Get behind me, Satan!”
As we read the section of scripture compare and contrast, the things, Jesus’ values vs the things others value, who others honour vs who Jesus honours, and what people think Jesus has come to do vs what He says He’s come to do. It’s jarring. it’s supposed to be. Because following Jesus is costly.
Directly after he rebukes Peter, He says the crowd that had gathered to him, “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. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Mark 8:34-37). Jesus is simply asking them:
What are your values?
Are they the things that God values?
The Holy Spirit, through Mark, is pressing that very question in to our hearts as well.
Finally, the transfiguration is a great reminder that no matter what it costs to follow Jesus, His beauty and glory are worth the sacrifice.
What are some values you try to live by?
Which one of the 4 ‘selfs’ are you most susceptible to?
Who do the people closest to you say Jesus is? How does that affect their lives?
Name a time when you’ve sacrificed greatly for someone or something because you deemed them or it ‘worth it.’ Reflect on that experience as you consider Mark 9:2-8
Verse of the Week
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.