Jesus asks "Who do you say that I am ?"
Some said they thought he was John the Baptist. They may have Jesus and his cousin John mixed up as their collective message was consistent. Some thought he was Elijah.
It is reasonable to question whether John had the spirit of Elijah.
Peter says, "You are the Messiah" Other versions recall Peter saying "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" Jesus foretells that he will be attacked by the elders and the scribes and be put to death and three days later will rise from the dead.
Mark says that Peter rebukes Him for this. What do you imagine Peter said ?...
Aren't you being too dramatic.
You don't really have to go through all of that.
Surely, you would be of greater use if you remain here... teaching and healing.
As you are the Messiah, become a ruler and save even more people ?
Whatever he said, Jesus clearly did not like it. Get behind me Satan !
Is that the way that you would talk to one of your friends ? Directly implying that your precious friend is the devil or saying the devil's words.
Jesus was familiar with the devil. Do you think he appeared with his two horn, long tail and pitchfork. That is the fictitious devil harmless enough to be the people's friend.
Here, the devil is the smooth voice of reason giving plausible excuses for missing the mark. You look very hungry, go on, turn those stones into tasty bread... you can do it... if you really are the Son of God. You can't really do God's work on an empty stomach. Come on, you will feel much better. Jesus crossly says, you can't live by bread alone. Keeping the eyes fixed on this world will never fulfil the eternal plan.
Throw yourself off the temple pinnacle. You need to be sure that you really have come to do God's work. Obviously if you get killed then he can't have wanted you here.. but if he has planned it.. then he will have to send his angels to rescue you. Jesus responds... "It is written, you do NOT put the Lord your God to the test."
Later, Jesus was now on his way across a mountain... Satan says, I have charge of all the world below... I will give it all to you ...if you will bend to knee to me.
The gospel says that the devil gave up..... for a while.
Years ago, I had a friend who I had climbed many Welsh summits with. We had all sorts of interesting conversations. One day, he said, he was in training to climb Everest. I tried hard to dissuade him... saying, the British mountains are wonderful enough, isn't this too dangerous. You may not come back. But ascending Everest was his dream.
Weeks later he was one of fifteen who flew to Kathmandu. They were frozen and had to constantly walk up and down to cope with the altitude and lack of air. Sadly, only 13 came back, two were caught in an avalanche and never seen again. I remember how the skin on his hands sagged loose afterwards, due to the severe attack of cold.
Sometimes, when someone knows they have to do something, they will not be deterred.
Peter wanted Jesus' life saved, but Jesus knew that taking the short term easy way out would have wrecked his purpose. So he continues.... if you hold on too tight to everything on earth your destiny will be lost... but those who surrender for me will keep their soul.
What does it profit a man or woman if they gain the entire world ? but lose themselves in the process. Some have riches and are worshipped as celebrities..... does this make them happy ? Contentment is rarely their experience. Notice how possessions can own you rather than you owning them.
Our reading ends with hard words.. those who are ashamed of me and disown me... from this adulterous generation.. I will disown them.
Shame happens for varied reasons, maybe from receiving poor treatment. One may be embarrassed because you appreciate well the counter arguments. There may be a longing for approval.
Jesus calls the generation adulterous ? This is not necessarily about marriage, but a widespread inconsistency, which lacks true loyalty. Sometimes we can have an easier ride by having a foot in both camps. Then we struggle to hear the still small voice?
This lesson today is not an easy one, but we can take encouragement that our Lord has been with us in this struggle and though Him, we can achieve all things.