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What constitutes a miracle?

Provision. Sustenance. Inclusion. Healing. Freedom. Power. Resurrection.

You’ve seen all these unfold in the Gospel of Mark during the #LentChallenge so far. But everything is about to change.

This week in the #LentChallenge of reading the Gospel of Mark we’re about to encounter a major transition.

The first 8 chapters of the Gospel of Mark display Jesus as a miracle-worker…

Jesus is healing the blind, multiplying loaves, walking on water, dispelling demons, restoring people’s ability to walk, cleansing people from leprosy, stilling storms.

Jesus reveals his power through these miracles.

Yet something shifts in chapter 8.

The miracles aren’t as frequent. Instead we walk with Jesus toward the cross. But what causes the shift? This conversation with Peter may give us a glimpse.

Jesus asks his best friends and followers, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)

They pipe up: John the Baptizer. Another prophet. Elijah reincarnate.

Jesus presses, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter, the ever-impetuous one, answers, “You are the Messiah.”

Something strange happens here. Peter, the A+, front-row-sitting student is right. Jesus is the Messiah. But rather than praise Peter, Jesus hushes him, and proceeds to foretell his death and resurrection.

Peter doesn’t like the sound of this. He pulls Jesus aside and tries to hush him. Certainly, the Messiah isn’t going to die.

Jesus responds by saying: “Get behind me, Satan!

Why does Jesus silence Peter when he declares his identity?

Because Peter’s concept of the Messiah is all wrong.

Peter envisions the Messiah as a military conqueror, king, ruler, political power, heck—even a miracle-worker will do.

Jesus wants Peter to know that he still doesn’t have it right.

Jesus came as the suffering servant.

The Anointed One came to rescue God’s people by hanging on a tree.

The Messiah came to be crucified, buried, and rise again.

This wasn’t what Peter was expecting. Jesus had to reorient Peter’s understanding of Christ’s identity.

But simply put, to know Christ’s miracles isn’t to know Christ.

When Peter later denies knowing Christ in Mark 14, it is actually a fulfillment of what has been true all along. Peter has never fully known Christ in the fullness of the true definition of what it means to be the Messiah.

What does that mean to you and me?

We must never mistake the miracle for the Messiah.

Sometimes we can receive the provision, the healing, the sustenance, and in excitement, focus our eyes on what we’ve received instead of who has given to us.

In my life, I’m sensing this call to dig deeper in my relationship with God. To love Him above all else…even the good gifts He provides.

What did you most need to hear but least want to read from today or this week’s readings?

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