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?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the Prophets.”
Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
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. He said all this quite openly.
And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are thinking not as God does, but as humans do.”
Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.”
I hate getting it wrong. At least, that’s what I’ve told myself for a long time. Come to find out, I was only half right about that. I suppose that means that I got getting it wrong, wrong. My Father has been gently redirecting my gaze, to show me that what I really hate is getting it wrong in front of other people. Losing face has mattered too much to me.
In this slice of Jesus’ life Mark gives us, the placement of the people is where my inner gaze turns to — almost like I’m blocking it out for a stage production.
Jesus - quite open: Everything up to this point is in the circle of Jesus and His disciples.
Peter - takes Him aside: Just Jesus and Peter have this meeting of minds together. Or, clash of minds. Peter trying to redirect Jesus away from what He has spoken of suffering.
Jesus - turning and looking at His disciples: His back is to Peter, and His gaze is outward to His closest followers. He is still in this circle of two, redirecting Peter’s thoughts from things human to things divine. Recognizing that while the voice may be Peter’s, the force of the temptation to turn from the cross is coming from the enemy. So He corrects Peter, and commands the enemy.
Jesus - calls the crowd: Now the circle expands to include them all. Speaking to Peter, whose breath is on His back. Speaking to His disciples who heard Peter speak out, ‘Messiah’. Calling beyond them all to the crowd. Redirecting them to see the true value in losing it all.
When I hear ‘rebuke’, I think ‘scold’. But the word is:
epitimao = epi + timao (upon + value)
It’s the idea of building upon the current situation to correct it, to give it the right value. To point it in the right direction. To redirect.
Three times in this short slice of Jesus’ life, Mark leans into the word epitimao. Three redirects:
Jesus redirects His disciples from announcing far and wide who He is.
Peter redirects Jesus from His mission to suffer and die and rise again.
Jesus, literally turning and facing another direction, redirects Peter to what matters more than His suffering: Look beyond Me to where I am looking. Look beyond the suffering. See what I see. I see others. They are worth it. You are worth it.
Father, thank you for redirecting my gaze. Blow into me Spirit, a small puff of breath that will fit in my baby-sized lungs. Enough breath for now to help me stop trying to save my face. More breath as I grow. Enough that I can give up my life for You, Jesus, and for the people You are facing. Amen and amen.