St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 14th October 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Create in me a clean heart,
O God. and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psalm 51: 10
Let us worship God
The lesson is Mark 8: 27 – 33
27 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?’28And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ 29He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.31 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. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Here is one of the swiftest turnarounds in fortune that we find in our scriptures.
Into the midst of the confusion of the disciples (not an unusual event in the gospels) comes a moment of clarity and light from one of the number (now, that is unusual!)
Peter’s epiphanic moment of recognition of Jesus as the promised messiah (Greek: ‘Christ’; English: ‘anointed one’) can be counted as one of the high points of Mark’s account of Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, as the implications of messiah-ship are outlined by Jesus (suffering, rejection, death, resurrection) Peter, it seems, doesn’t want to hear about that kind of messiah. And then BOOM! – 5 verses on from Peter as the insightful, open-eyed confessor of the Christ, he is now called Satan. Yes, Satan.
From the words of Jesus which follow we might surmise that Peter was assuming a kind of earthly glory, even triumphalism, for his friend the messiah (and even a little reflected glory for you-know-who as well – ‘well I was first to work it out, you know.’) It was this mistakenness on Peter’s part which results in the harshness of Jesus’ reply – Peter’s actions reflect those of Satan (the adversary) in the temptaions at the beginning of the gospel.
The way of discipleship in Mark reflects the journey of the one called the messiah:
“those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
That is, the way of love.
Brother, Sister let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.
(Hymn text by Richard Gillard)
In whom we live and move and have our being,
in you we live
for you are around us,
beside us, within us; in you we move
because you create all things new,
ever challenging and stirring us to leave our old selves behind;
in you we have our being,
for you are the ground of all being, and your breath, your Spirit,
is what animates our lives and our love.
Praise to you O God, Creator, Redeemer, Companion.
And in you O God, the world lives and moves and has being,
through your Son Jesus Christ,
who gave of his own self
that the world might know healing
from the fracture and brokenness which humanity creates.
Draw near O Healer, and bind up the wounds of those who hurt.
O Spirit of God give us a joy that outlasts our sorrows,
give us a hope stronger than despair,
call us to be glad for who we are
because you made us and meant us
to be your faithful people,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil;
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.
Dieterich Buxtehude Ciacona in G