#BigRead12, Week 4: Challenges


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  • Think back over the previous week. Did you ‘eat your chocolate’, e.g. “broken” a rule?
  • What do you think of when faced with the word ‘challenge’? How does your mind and body react?
  • You might enjoy http://youtu.be/erK28tenDnA


‘Who do you say I am?’ asks Jesus, as he challenges people’s ideas of what a ‘King’ might look like.


Bible Reading (Tom Wright Translation)

27 Jesus and his disciples came to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who are people saying that I am?’

28 ‘John the Baptist,’ they said, ‘or, some say, Elijah. Or, others say, one of the prophets.’

29 ‘What about you?’ asked Jesus. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up. ‘You’re the Messiah,’ he said.
30 He gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.page91image3784

Jesus Predicts His Death

31 Jesus now began to teach them something new.

‘There’s big trouble in store for the son of man,’ he said. ‘The elders, the chief priests and the scribes are going to reject him. He will be killed – and after three days he’ll be raised.’ 32 He said all this quite explicitly.

At this, Peter took him aside and started to scold him. 33 But he turned round, saw the disciples, and scolded Peter.

‘Get behind me, Accuser!’ he said. ‘You’re thinking human thoughts, not God’s thoughts.’

34 He called the crowd to him, with his disciples. ‘If any of you want to come the way I’m going,’ he said, ‘you must say “no” to your own selves, pick up your cross, and follow me. 35 Yes: if you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me and the Message you’ll save it. 36 After all, what use is it to win the world and lose your life? 37 What can you give in exchange for your life? 38 If you’re ashamed of me and my words in this cheating and sinning generation, the son of man will be ashamed of you when he “comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels”.


True Greatness

30 They went away from there and were travelling through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know, 31 because he was teaching his disciples.

‘The “son of man”’, he was saying, ‘is to be given over into human hands. They will kill him; and, when he’s been killed, after three days he will rise again.’

32 They didn’t understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33 They came to Capernaum. When they got into the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’

34 They said nothing, because on the road they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.

35 Jesus sat down and called the Twelve.

‘If you want to be first,’ he said, ‘you must be last of all, and servant of all.’ 36He took a small child, and stood it in the middle of them. Then he hugged the child, and said to them, 37‘If anyone welcomes one child like this in my name, they welcome me. And if anyone welcomes me, it isn’t me they welcome, but the one who sent me.’

Other translations: Mark 8: 27-38; 9 30-37.

Reflection: Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance): Will the real Jesus please stand up?

The gospel of Mark feels like a high-speed compilation of Jesus’ “best bits” like the video clips you might see when someone has just won a reality TV competition. It has a stripped down fast-moving narrative, yet despite the break neck speed of this biography of Jesus, one question is repeated time after time – “Who is this Jesus?”

Despite being chronologically and geographically close to Jesus, many of Jesus’ peers, friends and acquaintances, and enemies misunderstood him. Reading through Mark’s gospel this Lent is an important opportunity to recalibrate our own thinking about who Jesus was and is. Listening closely to Mark’s account will help us to make sure we get the true picture of Jesus. Strangely enough, the more clearly we see Jesus, the more clearly we understand who we are supposed to be.

Questions surrounding Jesus’ identity pulse through the gospel of Mark. Why not skim through and discover this theme for yourself. The opening verses reveal that Jesus is the Messiah as foretold by the prophets (1:1-3). John the Baptist points to Jesus’ identity by explaining to the expectant crowds his relationship to Jesus – a doorkeeper heralding the arrival of a VIP so powerful he was not even worthy to help him with his shoes. God himself identifies Jesus, declaring him to be his Son (1:11) at Jesus’ baptism.

After these clear declarations of Jesus’ credentials as God’s son, the question of Jesus’ identity suddenly becomes more intriguing. The astonished witnesses of Jesus’ first exorcism don’t know what to make of him, and Jesus is surprisingly cagey about his miracle working identity, asking them to keep it under wraps (1:44). The Pharisees can’t resolve why the one who is supposed to be the anointed King wants to spend time with “sinners” and tax collectors. Even Jesus’ own disciples can’t work out why they get to relax and feast, compared to John’s more ascetic followers.

Jesus explains to the Pharisees that he is like a doctor serving the sick (2:17), and to his disciples that he is like a bridegroom celebrating his wedding (3:18-32).  But yet the questions keep reappearing. The evil spirits acknowledge who he is (3: 11-12), and the religious establishment think he is in league with the devil (3:22). Even his closest friends can’t seem to get their heads around Jesus’ identity: “Who is this guy?” they exclaim after he calms a fierce storm (4:41). The kids he grew up with don’t recognise him when he returns to his home town (6:3). As Jesus’ reputation spreads far and wide, his real identity becomes more and more mysterious.

As we reach chapter 8 of Mark’s gospel, the question is going to be addressed once and for all. This time it is not the disciples, the demons, or the religious devotees asking the question – but Jesus himself. He turns to Peter, his most outspoken disciple and asks him straight out “Who do people say I am?” (8:27).  Peter spiels off the raft of common speculations: John the Baptist (they probably looked similar as they were cousins of a similar age with the same message) Elijah (the long awaited harbinger of the restoration as prophesied by Malachi in 450BC Malachi 4:5-6) or one of the other Old Testament prophets (reincarnated with their message of justice and repentance). But Jesus is not really interested in the tabloid theories. He wants Peter to make his own mind up: “Who do you say I am?”

Jesus went on to confound all the expectations of those waiting for the Messiah, conquering his enemies not through killing, but through being killed, proving his deity through the ultimate miracle – resurrection from the dead. Throughout the millennia, the crowds still discuss the controversial question of Jesus’ identity. If we accept that Jesus is who is says he is, the Messiah, Saviour of the world, rightful ruler and heir of the universe, then there are huge implications for how we live our lives. And so the question remains, the direct and personal question from Jesus to you: Who do you say that I am?
#BigRead12: Week 4: Challenges: Reflection: Krish Kandiah by bigbible


  1. What’s the most important characteristic of Jesus for you?
  2. Why are the Pharisees arguing about Jesus’ identity?
  3. What do you do in the name of Jesus? What shouldn’t be done in the name of Jesus?
  4. In what ways does it work to challenge authority?


Hot: Mad, Bad or the Son of God? Who was Jesus?

Consider who Jesus was, how he has appeared to many over time/how we represent him (e.g. http://youtu.be/yzqTFNfeDnE), and how far these may help in a missional sense.

Cold: Find images of Jesus, and discuss what you think of them.

You may have a ‘In Christ We Share’ pack provided by CPAS, 12Baskets can provide some images, check out ‘Chocolate Jesus’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5kHx1itU8c), and the items we could call ‘Consumer Jesus’, e.g. Gadgets for God. Think about creating a list of the top 10 images you would be happy to use.

After Dinner Chocs:

  1. Draw an image of Jesus (or find a picture) to post on 12Baskets (please ensure you hold any copyright).
  2. “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A.W.Tozer). Meditate on this quote.
  3. In 120 characters or less, give a description of Jesus. You can tweet this at #Jesus120. You can find information to help you on Talking of God for more information.

The Book

The related material in Lent for Everyone: Mark can be found on Week 3, Thursday, pp 77-80, and eek 4, Monday, pp90-93 which finish (respectively):

Lord Jesus, King of the world, rule in our hearts, our countries, our world with the healing power of your love.

Give us, gracious Lord, the humility to follow wherever you lead, with no thought for our own status except for that of a servant.

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