Posts Tagged ‘joy of life’

MARK 8:27-38

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?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And 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. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But 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. 35 For 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. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

After rebuking Peter for his adversarial role against the forward advance of the gospel mission, Jesus turned to the crowd and defined in the clearest terms possible what it means to be a Christian (literally a disciple or follower of Christ). Confirming the universal fact that what people everywhere want and are looking for is life in its fullness, Jesus also confirmed what is equally universal – our human tendency to grasp at things that have only the semblance of life, but which are paltry forgeries and hollow counterfeits of the Real Thing.

As we listen to Jesus, we are reminded of Wisdom’s invitation to authentic life in Proverbs 1. Beneath the crisscrossed surface of our wandering path through this world lies the developmental guiding line of the Human Ideal – the sequence of steps, stages, and seasons of life that define our evolutionary progress toward fulfillment, just as the growth phases of the oak tree unfold according to a design genetically encoded in the acorn.

We depart from this deeper path to our own frustration and possible peril. “If you seek to save your life” by clinging desperately to your attachments or running after the next promising thing, you are certain to lose the full meaning and joy of being alive.

The prescription for finding genuine life – abundant, real, authentic, eternal life – requires the self-surpassing act of “losing yourself” for the sake of what truly matters. For Jesus, the gospel of the kingdom of God and its way is the ultimate foundation of value, meaning, and human fulfillment. Now we can see that this gospel prescription is exactly the same thing that Wisdom also was inviting us to find. In fact, very early Christian traditions identified Jesus with divine Wisdom (cf 1 Corinthians 1:22-24).