In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus asks the question of disciples He asks each of us: Who do you say that I am? I wonder how different our answer is from Peter’s answer.
I don’t mean Peter’s initial answer. As it is often the case with us, the words are easy to mouth: “You are the Christ,” says Peter. So far, so good.
But then, as Jesus talks to his disciples about what it means that he is the Christ – that he must be rejected and killed and rise – Peter starts to rebuke him. You don’t really mean that, right? Yes, Lord, you are the Christ, but not like that. Peter had his own idea of what it meant to be the Christ, and his notion had nothing to do with suffering and dying. Nothing to do with what Jesus meant by being the Christ.
And I think that is exactly what we so often do – substitute our own idea or image of Christ. It is easy for us to look at Jesus and say, “You are the Christ. Of course I believe that. No question about it.”
But we have a lot of Peter’s reaction when we hear things like “whoever wishes to save his life must lose it” or “as I have done for you, you should do also” or “sell all you have.” You are the Christ, we say, adding, but you didn’t really mean lose my life, right? You are the Christ, but you didn’t really mean wash everyone else’s feet, right? You are the Christ, but you didn’t really mean sell all I have, right?
Like Peter, we could all benefit from listening more closely to what Jesus tells us about what it means to affirm he is the Christ.