Ordinary Time (Proper 19)
MARK 8:27-38/8:28-41 IV
Who Do You Say that I Am?
Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19; James 3:1-12; Doctrine and Covenants 163:1-2a
Welcome and Sharing
Community Announcements, Joys and Concerns
“Spirit Fill Us” CCS 160
OR “The Summons” CCS 586
OR “Fairest Lord Jesus” CCS 33
Praise: Announce He Is the Christ!
Call to Worship Responsive Reading
Leader: The heavens are telling the glory of God;
People: and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Leader: Day to day pours forth speech,
People: and night to night declares knowledge.
Leader: There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
People: yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
All: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Hymn of Praise
“Crown Him with Many Crowns” CCS 39
OR “Hallelujah! We Sing Your Praises” CCS 656
Sung Response “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” Refrain only CCS 367
Confession: Is He the Christ?
Focus Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27-38
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
Hymn of Peace
Prepare a reflection question to follow each stanza of the hymn that is selected. See example below for the first hymn.
Questions can be printed, projected, or read aloud.
“We Are People of God’s Peace” CCS 306
After stanza 1: How does the desire for peace unite you with others?
After stanza 2: How is the peace of Jesus Christ made real in your life?
OR “The Peace of Jesus Christ” CCS 317
OR “The Peace of Mind” CCS 320
You ask us, “Who do you say I am?” You promise peace if we recognize Jesus as the Christ. But many through the centuries have faced persecution for that very thing. And we struggle to find peace in ourselves, our communities and the world. We feel inadequate or wrongly directed. Help our unbelief. Provide us, we pray, the assurance of your love. Help us work for peace where our effort is needed. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found on the church's website at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Proclamation: Testify He Is the Christ!
Print or project: “You were the .” Write responses on a flip chart, white board, or poster board or project them as they are given.
I want you to think of one of your teachers. Imagine that teacher asking, “Who do people say I am?” Let’s think of some ways we might answer: Give people time to respond.
Some examples might include:
You were the greatest teacher in the school.
You were the strictest teacher in the building.
You were the nicest teacher in the school.
Then the teacher might ask, “Who do you say I am?” Give people time to respond.
Some responses might include:
You were the teacher who taught me the most.
You were the teacher who was the most fun.
You were the teacher who helped me grow up.
When Jesus asked his disciples the question, “Who do people say I am?” they had all sorts of answers. But when he asked them, “Who do you say I am?” They responded, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” That was an important answer because Jesus looked like any other man in the neighborhood. Just like your teacher looked like any other person in town. The disciples needed to recognize who Jesus was so they knew to pay attention to all the important things he would teach them. It’s important for us to recognize Jesus so we will listen to what Jesus wants to teach us.
Hymn of Proclamation
“Christ Leads!” CCS 28
OR “Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire” CCS 166
OR “Who Is This Jesus” CCS 38
Based on Mark 8:27-38
Commitment: Live as a Disciple, He Is the Christ!
Disciples’ Generous Response
Generosity is an act of faith and prophetic hope...and is a disciple’s investment in the future of Christ’s mission on Earth. Faithful disciples not only initiate acts of generosity, they anticipate their transformative impact. Actions of uncommon generosity are prophetic. They look beyond the horizon of what is...to see what could be. We envision the end result of generosity and simultaneously decide to be generous. It is the vision of transformation that inspires generosity’s beginning.
—From An Invitation to a 14-day Spiritual Journey Toward God’s Abundant Generosity,
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our hearts with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples- generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Sending Forth
“O Risen Christ, Still Wounded” CCS 41
OR “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” CCS 206
OR “Go Forth” CCS 654
Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 163:1-2a
Ordinary Time (Proper 19)
Exploring the Scripture
Most scholars agree that Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, probably written sometime around 60 CE. The author focuses throughout the book on three primary themes: (1) Jesus’ suffering servanthood, (2) the person and authority of Jesus, and (3) total commitment involved in life as a disciple. The main intent, however, is showing who Jesus was. As is so often the case with scripture, today’s text has multiple layers and each layer is multifaceted. However, the three focuses are seen clearly in these 11 verses.
The exchange between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter, addresses the question of who Jesus was. His stern order for them to not tell anyone about him was a signal that Jesus didn’t want to be identified with what people of that day understood about the nature of “the Messiah.” Jesus signals a radical shift in understanding who and what the Messiah was. In Jesus’ day, that person was expected to be a powerful political or military leader. We have the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But for his disciples, this represented a major shift in understanding and required a significant leap of faith.
What happens next in the text clearly highlights the point about the suffering Jesus. Jesus continues his discussion with the disciples explaining the Son of Man must “undergo great suffering” (v. 31), eventually be killed, but rise again after three days. The extent of the disciples’ reaction is seen in Peter’s rebuke of Jesus who then, himself, rebukes Peter, calling him Satan. Jesus’ next words again express the divine nature of the Messiah as he tells Peter that he (and by extension, the other disciples) was focusing on “human things” rather than on divine things (v. 33). Jesus was saying the disciples simply didn’t understand what was really involved in his messiahship and, therefore, he didn’t want the disciples proclaiming him as the Messiah based on their errant understanding.
The third point above comes through loud and clear in the later passages of the text. Jesus makes clear that to follow him requires denying oneself, taking up one’s individual “cross,” and following him. As the late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it in his book by the same name, there is a “Cost of Discipleship.” Scholars have proposed the idea of denying oneself goes far beyond simply not indulging in one thing or another as we might during the Lenten season. They suggest what Jesus meant was that to follow him involves putting others before oneself—an especially difficult idea in cultures where individualism and the “self” reign supreme.
This theme also cuts across all arenas of life and calls to mind again Jesus’ words that “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (v. 33). The Apostle Paul put it differently in his letter to the church in Rome, “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Paul was seemingly suggesting disciples of Jesus should not follow worldly ways or be concerned about human or earthly comfort or pleasure of self, but instead should focus on “divine things” and live out the gospel in the world.
Jesus’ expectations of disciples are not just about sacrificial giving. His admonition includes the promise that “those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (v. 33).
- Jesus presents a radically new understanding of who and what the Messiah was to be; one who must suffer instead of the popular understanding that this person would be a conquering political or military hero.
- To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must give up the self and be willing to bear heavy burdens, possibly to the extent of giving up one’s own life.
Questions to Consider
- After reading these verses, why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus?
- Do we fully understand the meaning of messiah?
- When have you experienced denying yourself and bearing a “cross” as a disciple of Jesus? How did that feel?
- What does this text mean within the culture in which your congregation and its participants live?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Ordinary Time Proper 19
Mark 8:27-38 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
O God, Creator of the universe and Giver of life,
Often in the hustle and bustle of activities we overlook your gracious concern for each of us. In your love, continue to forgive our negligence, we pray.
Help us all to realize the greatness of our heritage and the task before us to carry on the message of your mission of peace. With that whispered voice of counsel and direction from you, we will have the strength, courage, and knowledge necessary for this time and place as did those who came before us. In our more thoughtful and responsive moments it is our desire to help make possible a more peaceful society and loving environment.
The wonderful world you have created and permitted us to enjoy does not always provide the peace and safety that you envisioned. This, we know, is a result of our not fully accepting your counsel and fulfilling your desires for your creation. However, Lord, in all of this we continue to see, sense, and recognize your love for us individually and collectively. For this we are grateful.
May we have your presence, helping us purge our hearts of apathy and replacing it with a desire for peace and unity in this, your world. We offer our thanks and ask your guidance in the name of the great Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. Amen.
—Donald Lents, adapted
Unity in Diversity is an Enduring Principle that expresses the diverse nature of the church and the commitment to live our common Christian discipleship as one community. We develop relationships that cross borders, cultures, traditions, and language. As we read in Roman 12:15, we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
Think about the past year.
- When have you rejoiced? Who rejoiced with you?
- When did you weep? Who wept with you?
Spend a moment in silent prayer thanking God for those who rejoiced and wept with you. Again, think about the past year.
- Who shared their joy with you, and you rejoiced with them?
- Who shared their burden with you, and you wept with them?
Spend a moment in silent prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to experience joy and sorrow in unity with others.
Invite any who wish to share reflections on the spiritual practice of unity.
Sharing Around the Table
Mark 8:27–38 NRSV
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
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.”
The exchange between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter, addresses the question of who Jesus was. His stern order for them to not tell anyone about him was a signal that Jesus didn’t want to be identified with what people of that day understood about the nature of “the Messiah.” Jesus was radically different than what many expected the Messiah to be. In Jesus’ day, that person was expected to be a powerful political or military leader. For the disciples to hear Jesus talk about his own rejection, suffering, and death was disturbing and confusing.
Peter’s reaction shows the extent of the disciples’ discomfort. He rebukes, or chastises Jesus. But unexpectedly, Jesus then rebukes Peter, even calling him Satan. Jesus explains that by focusing on human rather than divine understandings, the disciples could not understand what was going to take place and its deeper meaning and impact. Jesus doesn’t want the disciples proclaiming him as the Messiah when they do not fully understand what that means.
Jesus then makes clear that to follow him requires putting the welfare of others before one’s personal welfare (denying oneself), facing the real challenges of discipleship such as being persecuted for standing up to power or speaking against injustice (taking up the cross), and living the ministry and message of Jesus (following him).
- After reading these verses, why would anyone want to follow Jesus?
- When have you experienced denying yourself and bearing a “cross” as a disciple of Jesus? How did that feel?
- What does this text mean within the context of your culture?
“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).
We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
Generous God, Be with each of us as we manage our time, treasure, talent, and witness. May we use all our resources in ways that express our desire to bring blessings of healing and peace into the world. May we focus our giving on your purposes, and may our hearts be aligned with your heart.
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 335, “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather”