Lent 2 – Year B
This longer reading better sets the stage than simply picking things up at verse 31. Beginning even earlier there is a story of a healing of a blind man whose gradual regathering of sight brought him to clarity of vision. Even here Jesus asks that no big deal be made of this event, that the one with new sight should stay out of sight.
Who do people say Jesus is? Well, for sequestering a visionary, crazy might be among the descriptors. Whether this or a prophet or a messiah, Jesus is still proposing anonymity.
In this moment of quiet, with nothing apparent at stake, Jesus teaches about life and life renewed and life eternal. Peter, honoring the quiet takes Jesus aside to, in one form or another, say "no" to some aspect of "life".
Jesus is not willing to honor this Petrine tactic because something, apparently, is at stake – another testing? Peter is seen as a tester, a satan (not necessarily the big Satan [note: this smaller case satan is usually how the U.S. is described, not as the big Satan]) and publicly revealed in that role.
We have all too often experienced that to lose one's life through crucifixion or other collateral means it has been a meaningless loss. We have plenty of experience of folks being gone and it signifying nothing. This taking up one's already lost life is a rallying cry. On what other basis than a larger vision would one risk seeming to be irrelevant? This strange call gives Peter a second chance to go a next step with his Messiah, his strange already lost Messiah. Peter will travel to the Transfiguration (which comes next in Mark, except we covered that two weeks ago – so the scripture that comes after has already come before [shades of Baptizer John's confusing talk about Jesus]) still being a bewildered satan (as aren't we all?).
Will you respond to such a strange rallying cry that calls for your commitment even to the point of being inconsequential? This is a Lenten question worth looking at. Even if we aren't quite up to it in the moment, hang in there with the question, transfiguration, like Brigadoon, can appear out of time and just in the nick of time.