The reading for today is Mark 8:27-30.
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am? ” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
I spend A LOT of time doing math homework, I mean A LOT of time for someone who is no longer in school! Two-digit subtraction, percentages, number lines, fractions, those dreaded word problems-- I've done them all. Being a parent of two elementary school-aged children means I am helping with homework many nights of the week. Though the methods have changed since I was a student (common core, anyone?), one thing remains the same. You still have to show your work. Yes-- if you can't show how you got your answer, you don't get credit. The right answer may be great but if there is no showing how you get there, forget full credit!
Peter is like that student that thinks his math homework is complete because he's written all the right answers. He is the first, in Mark's gospel, to recognize Jesus' identity not just as a leader but as the Messiah. Yes, Peter has come up with the right answer: Jesus is more than a teacher, more than a leader, more than a prophet. He is the Messiah, the Christ. But Peter has given the answer without really understanding what this means. Jesus knows his life of faithfulness will lead him to suffering and eventually the cross. But Peter just skips ahead to the ending. He can't seem to articulate what happens in between. To continue with above homework analogy, he doesn't show his work.
A life of faith brings about questions. More questions than many times, we care to address. How can I be kind today? In what ways (for good or bad) do my actions impact others? How is God speaking to me today? Why is it so hard for me to listen to others? Where is God at work in the world? Yes, Jesus-as-Christ is the answer. But what is the question? What are our questions?
Peter tries to skip ahead to the ending. But the book of Mark is only half-way through at Chapter 8. Jesus knows there is more to come. A life that will lead to more good works, more ministry, and yes, more suffering. But the promise is that God is with us. Jesus walks with us through this journey. Jesus knows the questions we ask. He knows the difficulty we have in 'showing our work'. Yet the promise is there- that he will be with us and calling to us. Jesus moves with us as we ask our questions. And that will have to be enough as we trust that Jesus-the-Messiah will be our Final Answer in the completeness of time.
Karen Landahl email@example.com