I’ve been exploring a contemplative way of reading the bible of late on occasions and yesterday I had the opportunity to spend some time in Mark 8: 27 – 33. This is the occasion when Jesus is on the way to Caesarea Philippi with the disciples and we hear something of the conversation on the way. Jesus asks the disciples ‘who do the crowds say I am?’ and the disciples respond with the variety of opinions they’ve heard expressed. He then turn the question towards his disciples and ask ‘so, who do YOU say I am?’ Peter gains the confidence to say ‘You’re the Lord and Christ’ before displaying his slight misapprehension of how that works, exactly.
In the approach to the text, the invitation is simply to imagine myself in the text. To consider the physical environment, what people are wearing, that the road is like, the temperature, weather. A lot of this is simply to enter the story. And then there is the invitation to imagine Jesus turning towards me and asking me the same question. ‘Who do you say I am?’
The Holy Spirit provoked a sense of worship and awe and ‘Lord and King’ was my response as I lay prostrate before him. A precious moment of worship and surrender to him, the only one who truly deserves my allegiance. After a few moments, I sensed Jesus kneel down and place his hand on my shoulder/back…a touch of affirmation and love, strengthening and reception of worship. And then, I saw Jesus lay down on the ground with me, his head near mine as he displayed his desire to identify with my very human experience, to identify with the dust that he and I share.
That was special enough, but what happened next brought a massive smile to my face for many hours. Jesus arose, invited me to do the same. He looked at me with a mischievous smile and he began to dance, inviting me to join in as well as the other disciples. Very soon, we were dancing, laughing, celebrating and feeling very much alive. I could sense the rhythm of the music I couldn’t hear in my body and I could sense the endorphins releasing into my brain as joy washed over.
After a few moments, Jesus pointed to the path and invited me to ‘dance on’ along it, which I did towards the town that I could see. When I approached the gate, I saw a man seated on the ground under a blanket. I sat with him for a few moments with my arm on his shoulder and then I sensed I should invite him to dance to. He wasn’t sure about the idea, but as I strutted my clumsy stuff, he laughed and got to his feet and we danced together.
Looking back down the road, Jesus stood, arms folded, grinning ear to ear as he watched the dance continue.
That was rather special.
What about you? Who do you say that he is?