12 September, 2021: Twenty-Fourth Sunday, Year B: Isaiah 50:4c-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35
Until this episode in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has been discouraging anyone to identify him as the Christ. Granted, up to this point it has only been demonic spirits who know who he is.
Those demonic spirits trembled at Jesus’ authority and power; but Peter rebukes Jesus for describing a powerless Messiah. Might Peter have information without understanding its significance? Is he, perhaps, overconfident in his knowledge, knowledge which will not prevent him from betraying Jesus three times? Can he really understand what “Christ” means until he has betrayed him and, repenting, receive that the forgiveness that can only come through the vulnerable Christ?
I suspect that Peter cannot understand who Jesus is, because he doesn’t yet understand who Peter is.
What kind of Messiah would employ his power to perpetuate an illusion of security and righteousness where none existed? Is righteousness only a question of what I don’t do wrong, or is it the right relationship with God? Isn’t an authentic relationship with God based on truth, motivating me to express my faith by doing good for others, rather than claiming goodness for myself?
It is not enough to know information about Jesus Christ or about God. If I don’t truly and completely know who I am, how can I forge a living, enduring relationship with anyone?
Only when Peter can truly own who he is, can he truly grasp who the Christ is.