Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”
29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”
30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.
Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”
34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38
Have you ever thought you had something learned only to learn that there was much more to learn? Maybe you learned trigonometry, thought it was the top of the mountain, only to discover that there was calculus! You mastered the chain stitch in crocheting and learned about the moss stitch, single mash stitch, and the thick and thin front loop single stitch. (I’ll admit, I had to google “crochet stitches” to discover that there are 10 most popular stitches.) I’ve learned – in my lifetime of photography pursuits – that there is black and white and color photography, slides, film, digital, infrared (film and digital), wet plate, and a host of other methods and means by which an image is captured and displayed. And I’m still learning.
Jesus has been with his disciples for three years. He’s teaching them about his mission, God’s kingdom, life, faith, obedience, and love. Note the word teaching. This is not a throw-away word. This is not a little thing. Jesus is teaching them. This implies three important things.
It first must imply a base of knowledge. They had to learn some things, some truths, some tenets of the faith. Some of those they surely knew. God is one. We must love him above all else. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. There are 10 Commandments. They needed to know these things.
We must also learn how to apply those truths and tenets we believe and confess. They are not static truths or mere theological propositions. They are the stuff of life. They order our lives. They shape our souls.
The soul shaping aspect of learning leads to the third move of being taught. First we learn information. Next comes imitation – where we imitate those who teach us and how make a major impact in our lives. Finally comes innovation. This is when we take what we have learned and apply it to new and different situations.
The study of the Bible is unique in that it is not a once-read book. Seldom have I re-read a book; at least not on purpose. But I pour over the words of Scripture again and again, and each time some new facet of truth, some new way of seeing, or different manner of application presents itself.
And when it comes to this particular moment of teaching, it bears repeating: Jesus is going to suffer, be rejected and die. That was his plan. That was his purpose. Next time the good things of God seem to be going awry this moment will help us – if we put ourselves with the disciples at Jesus’ feet. The more we understand the implications of Jesus’ life and teachings, the more fully we will be able to navigate the challenging times that come our way.