Second Sunday in Lent
Today’s text falls within the middle section of Mark’s gospel (set as Jesus makes his way towards Jerusalem). The section revolves around the disciples’ incomprehension of who Jesus really is! Through the question, “Do you not understand yet?” (8:17-21), that Jesus keeps asking, Mark sets the context for such incomprehension, and masterfully employs a literary style in the gradual and eventual unveiling of Jesus’ identity. It is significant to note that Mark begins and ends this central portion with stories of healing the blind: In 8:22-26 Jesus privately heals a man’s blindness, though it requires two steps to complete the process. In 10:46-52, Jesus publicly heals the blindness of Bartimaeus, the beggar, in an instant.
“Sight” is used in these miracles as a metaphor in the gradual unveiling of Jesus’ identity. In between the stories of healing the blind come Jesus’ three predictions of his passion, of which Mark 8:31-38 is the first. Mark means to say that Jesus’ identity does not fit into the mould of the leader expected by his disciples, carved by tradition and exemplified through Peter’s rebuke of Jesus. Jesus’ counter-rebuke of Peter also follows after his own declaration of Jesus as Messiah (8:29)! While Peter declares Jesus as Christos (Christ), at the same time he attempts to limit the understanding of Christ to his own desire. Jesus will have nothing of this! Iēsous Christos (‘Jesus Christ’ in Koine Greek) continues to be an enigma in the 21st century. The real challenge for Christian evangelism is the limiting of God’s ways of being in the world in an attempt to make Jesus Christ fit into our own mould.
Life-flourishing evangelism calls for recognising and affirming God’s ways of being amongst peoples and cultures across the world. It calls for a radical discipleship that re-examines and revalues our commitment to the gospel of Iēsous Christos and our engagement with the world towards reclaiming God’s offer of fullness of life for all creation. Evangelism which thrives in such radical discipleship cuts as a double-edged sword: it is both a gaining and emptying of one’s own life.
-Cliff Bird, CWM Board of Directors
God of all creation, God of all people, in our eagerness to tell others about the good news declared and lived by Jesus the Christ, help us to refrain from making Jesus fit into our own moulds, and keep us from limiting God’s ways of being in the world. Amen.
Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia
2020 has been a hard year for humanity, especially our poor and persecuted global church family, many suffering from locusts, natural disasters and now COVID-19 on top of the discrimination they already face.
But in this suffering there is also hope. The persecuted church is resilient, courageous and, most importantly, faithful to God.
Through our suffering family, be inspired to find strength for today in the face of pressures and struggles, as we look to the bright hope Jesus promises us for tomorrow.
Pray for GPM’s Barnabas Fund for the suffering church. Bringing action and awareness of the suffering church right into homes, we hope that more people than ever will learn about, empathise with, pray for and speak out about suffering and persecuted Christians around the world.