Holy Tuesday • Taking Up the Cross

Read Mark 8:27-9:1

The Gospel of Mark takes a very serious and somber turn beginning with these verses. Jesus begins to reveal what it truly means for him to be the Messiah.

Even though Jesus has not himself preached that he is to be a popular political figure and miracle worker, many of the crowds as well as his followers have assumed this to be true. Mark takes the occasion of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ to draw attention to the fact that Jesus’ definition of “Christ” is radically different than what the people understood it to be.

The most shocking part of Jesus’ teaching was not that his disciples could face death for following him. Many of them probably had already assumed that they might be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice for Jesus. Peter, speaking for the other disciples, was beside himself that Jesus would be the one to suffer and face death.

For the Messiah to face death as a common criminal would be a repugnant idea to anyone in the first century. Peter assumed that the Messiah would be victorious, not killed. Jesus is beginning to teach the hard truth to his followers that the way to victory is through the suffering of the cross. All of this sets the stage for the second half of Mark.

Discussion Questions

  • Why was Peter the only disciple who confessed that Jesus was the Christ?
  • Do you think the other disciples agreed with Peter?
  • Why did Jesus command Peter not to tell anyone that he was the Christ? (v. 29)
  • What part of Jesus’ prediction did Peter likely have a problem with? (v. 32)
  • Why did Jesus rebuke Peter as “Satan?” (v. 33)
  • How did God’s plan for Jesus differ from the disciples’ plan for Jesus?
  • Have you been tempted to rebuke Jesus because he won’t follow your plan?
  • How does Jesus’ version of discipleship differ from our version? (vv. 34-38)
  • In what ways can a person “gain the world and forfeit his soul?”
  • How do we sometimes demonstrate “shame for Jesus?”
  • Is it possible to be a disciple and not suffer for it?
  • What does Jesus offer that is greater than what this world offers?