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“You’re the Christ!” “Shut up.”

O Goody, A Life Verse
I am not a “life verse” kind of guy. If anyone were to ask me what my “life verse” was, I would not have been able to tell them.

And then one day, I turned around and realized I had one. It completely hacked me off, of course, because I’m not a “life verse” kind of guy.

But there it was. The verse I had taped to my monitor when I was in grad school to remind me that rising within the system I was a part of was not the way of the kingdom of God. To remind me that the ladder of success was not the stairway to heaven.

Then, back when I had the most technologically advanced telephone on the planet (before I switched to iPhone), it would scroll across my screen.

A reminder. A way of life. The story of Jesus in five words. The daily undoing of myself that I was called to.

οὐχ οὕτος ἔσται ἐν ὑμἶν

“It shall not be so among you.”

These are Jesus’ words to the twelve when they are grumbling about greatness. When they are angling for positions of glory and power.

After he had just told them that he was going to the cross.

The cross.

Christ as Crucified—So Shut Up
This wasn’t the first time that the disciples had engaged in such shenanigans.

In Mark, the first time a character within the story calls Jesus “Christ” is Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ!”

A profession of faith! Behold the true believer!

“Shut up.”

Excuse me?

“Shut up.”

Um… who are you, and why are you telling me to shut up? We’re celebrating here. Peter has made his profession of faith.

“I’m Jesus, and Peter doesn’t really know what on earth he’s talking about. So I want him to shut up. And while we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind if you shut up, too.” (Mark 8:30, paraphrase)

[Blank stare at Jesus as I wait to find out what he has to say, but I can’t ask him because he just told me to shut my pie hole.]

“Getting my title right is one thing. But the more important thing is that you get my story straight. I have to be rejected, suffer, and die before I’m raised to heavenly and royal glory.”

We Think We Know—And We’re Wrong
Yes, yes. We know this. We know that Jesus doesn’t give in to the social stereotype of a military messiah. We know. We know. We know.

Yes, yes. Jesus had to die. That’s the whole point. The cross. That’s the gospel. We know. We know.

I don’t think so.

We don’t know. Because this most basic thing we say about Jesus is the hardest thing to get our heads around. Because this most basic thing we say about Jesus says, at the same time, that every rut we fall into of pursuing life, liberty, and happiness, can be a rut that takes us far off track from the Kingdom of God.

The story Jesus tells is not “I die for you” [full stop]. It is “I die for you so that you, in turn, can lay down your lives for the good of the world.” Fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Be drawn into the labor pains that bring about the age to come.

“Take up your cross and follow me.”

Every time we exploit the prerogatives of power for our own gain, in order to triumph over someone else’s agenda, we have played the game of the rulers of the world.

And Jesus says, “It shall not be so among you.”

Every time we exploit our racial privileges, gaining life for ourselves in ways that suck life out of the other, we have played the game of the rulers of the world.

And Jesus says, “It shall not be so among you.”

Every time we eschew the risk involved in handing over our power to someone else, afraid that they might fail, ensuring that we keep what we have been given, we have played the game of the rulers of the world.

And Jesus says, “It shall not be so among you.”

Every time we use our theology to build a protective hedge around us and say to those on the other side, “You do not belong,” we have played the game of the rulers of the world.

And Jesus says, “It shall not be so among you.”

Lord! Lord!
Jesus did not come to elicit our confession of faith, or acknowledgement of a bare title. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom.”

Jesus came to invite us into a whole new way of living.

It does us no good to proclaim that in the kingdom of God “up is down and down is up” if our whole life is lived scratching and clawing to the top of the ladder of upward mobility.

“Up is down and down is up—and I will manipulate all power at my disposal to keep you down while I go up.” “Lord! Lord!” “You are the Christ!”

Shut up.

οὐχ οὕτος ἔσται ἐν ὑμἶν

It shall not be so among you.

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9 thoughts on ““You’re the Christ!” “Shut up.”

  1. “I die for you so that you, in turn, can lay down your lives for the good of the world.” And that, my friend is atonement–being ‘at-one’ with God. That’s how it works. That’s why faith(fulness) is the key to it. And now I’d better shut up.

  2. Daniel – I am preaching this week on the Good Samaritan. Thank you for your timely post on the call of Jesus to look on all people with compassion. To stop valuing religious standing over love for others. this post has been a great challenge to me and a fantastic lens through which to see the story of the Good Samaritan.

  3. Mark 8:30 has confused me in that it seems to suggest that Jesus is keeping his mission, or the nature of his mission, a secret, whereas he seems to operate publicly . You seem to be suggesting that rather, he’s saying that the disciples shouldn’t try to talk about stuff they don’t understand? “Nobody (even you guys!) should declare about me!” I super like this.

  4. The account in Mt. 16 is a bit fuller. While your “shut up” commentary makes some very useful points, how does the Mt. account modify or enlarge upon them?

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