URC Daily Devotion Monday 19 February 2024

Monday 19 February 2024
St Mark 8:31  – 9:1

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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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.’ 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. 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.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  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.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with  power.’


One of my favourite pieces of poetry is ‘Eli Jenkins’ Prayer’ from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.  The line ‘we are not wholly bad or good…’ resonates with me as my experience of life grows.  I’m sure we can all think of particularly good or evil individuals, but I suspect most of us are somewhere in the middle. 
Poor Peter.  One minute Jesus is praising him for speaking words given to him by God and the next moment he is being called ‘Satan’.  The Temptation was not a one-off event but the beginning of a series of challenges that would reoccur until the Garden of Gethsemane. Through Peter’s protestations that this cannot be permitted, the devil is offering Jesus the option to avoid the pain of the Cross by allowing the disciples to protect him.
Because of his identity and mission, Jesus has to choose the way of the Cross. He takes the opportunity to remind his disciples that as followers of Jesus that will be their way also.  Many Christians down the centuries and today have been killed because of their faith but I’m not sure that our relative security allows us to merely gloss over Jesus’ challenge.  There may be part of our lives that we are called to relinquish as followers of Jesus – and that may also apply to what we do as churches as well.
Any resistance to change, especially as society changes around us may be deeply held and well-meaning but this passage reminds us that we do not always get this right and sometimes our  thoughts and actions may work against, rather than further God’s Kingdom, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.  The good news is that God is much more understanding and forgiving than we could ever be.
Dear Master, in whose life I see,
All that I would, but fail to be
Let thy clear light forever shine
To shame and guide this life of mine
Though what I dream and what I do
In my weak days are always two
Help me, oppressed by things undone,
O thou, whose deeds and dreams were one. Amen
John Hunter (1848 – 1917) (R&S 493)

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Ian Kirby, Bannau Brycheiniog/Brecon Beacons Pastorate, Minister


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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