Peter, the well-known disciple of Jesus, grasped what the other eleven had missed. When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, they speculated, reporting what the crowds thought about Jesus. But Peter had the right answer. “The Christ,” he said (Mark 8:29). At this point, with Peter’s confession fresh in their minds, Jesus began to teach them that he had to be rejected, killed and three days later would rise again. The Messiah, Jesus wanted them to understand, would not be the a military ruler and priest of popular expectations who would create a new and purified Israel.
Peter, on hearing Jesus’ redefinition of what a Messiah looked like – a suffering and rejected one, began to correct Jesus and objected to his explanation. Jesus corrected him. What Peter lacked was the insight to see Jesus and the purpose of his mission. Peter wanted to join a movement that provided fame and success (Mark 10:28). The reward he craved for the cost of following Christ would be validated when Jesus sat on his throne with the other eleven seated next to him. Jesus corrects this misplaced expectation (Mark 8:34-38). To follow Jesus would mean to pick up one’s own cross, like Jesus carried his own. The cross was a symbol of shame, the naked display of Roman power, a punishment that put fear into onlookers. Peter lacked the insight to see that Jesus suffered and died under the power of Rome, to display the power of God in his weakness. Paul however, understood this (2 Cor 12: 9-10 & 1 Cor 4:9-13). Are you prepared to follow Jesus and pick up your cross? Or do you serve him to gain validation or to gain what he potentially offers in the popular imagination?