St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 28th January 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Let us worship God.
The lesson is written in the Gospel of Mark in chapter 8
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.’
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,will save it.
The word of the Lord; thanks be to God
Here is one of the swiftest turnarounds in fortune that we find in the gospels.
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 (meaning ‘the adversary’) in the temptations 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.
God of love,
your Son brought healing to the sick
and hope to the despairing.
We lift up to you all who are suffering from illness
and those who are mourning the loss of one they loved.
Bless those who share with Christ
a healing ministry,
researchers, doctors, nurses, care home workers.
Use their sympathy and skill
for the relief of suffering,
the conquest of disease
and the restoration of health
in our land and in our world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 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.
Joseph Jongen Petit Prélude