by Tom Brennen
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Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him (Mark 8:32).
When were you last ‘in over your head’?
I vividly remember the first lesson I ever taught as a teacher many years ago. My class of well-groomed youngsters greeted me politely and waited for the lesson to begin. The room was warm, and the excitement of a new school year was in the air. And like many graduate teachers, I would soon learn what it really meant to be a teacher.
The late nights of marking, the helicopter parents, the minor behavioural issues that come with working with teenagers and so on made me realise that my teacher training had not fully prepared me for the rewarding but very challenging day-to-day work of teaching. As my first parent-teacher interview night approached, I had great anxiety. I feared that parents would clearly see I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and that I was well ‘over my head’.
In this Gospel reading, we see Peter declare that Jesus is the Messiah, only to be rebuked by Jesus soon after for not getting what that really meant. Peter was in over his head here. Just as I was an inexperienced and young teacher, so Peter was an inexperienced and young Christian. He forgot – or perhaps failed to grasp – exactly what the fullness of Jesus’ ministry meant.
At the beginning of our faith as new believers, we find ourselves well over our heads – unable to fully grasp what it is to live the Christian life. Those who have years of faith behind us can still be like Peter and the first disciples, failing to grasp all of what it is to be a Christian and follower of Christ.
Christ says, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’.
As we take on the cross of Christ, we must commit ourselves to learn and grow in knowing what this means for us each and every day. Our sinful nature means Jesus will sadly have reason to turn to us and say as he did to Peter, ‘You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things’.
As we step out on our journey, let us diligently seek God’s grace, wisdom and guidance as we grow in the knowledge of what it is to take our own cross and follow Christ rather than the world or our selfish desires.
Lord, may we approach your throne with humility and the knowledge that you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Help us grow in knowing what it is to take up the cross of Christ and follow you. Amen.