Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

1 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 8.27-end

It is remarkable how often in our lives moments of brilliance and inspiration are followed by moments of extreme folly and even shame. Does that sound familiar?

Peter had just said it – the first time anyone had said it – he had said, ‘You are the Messiah’. And for Evangelist Mark it is the turning point of the Gospel.

Jesus responds to being hailed as the long awaited Messiah, God’s anointed Saviour, by saying that ‘the Son of Man’ must suffer and be rejected by the authorities, and be killed, and rise again. But Peter won’t have it. How can God’s anointed King suffer and die in this way? Surely not? That’s when Jesus rebukes him so strongly – ‘Get behind me, Satan!’. It was kind of Peter, of course, only to wish Jesus well. And no doubt like James and John he would have had his own ambitions on the basis that Jesus would be King. But when Jesus already knew that obedience to his Father meant he must suffer and die, pressure from one of his close disciples to opt for something easier was nothing other than temptation from the devil himself. No wonder Peter gets it in the ear. How wrong have you been?

This is the first big mistake Peter makes. There are more to come. But Peter ends up leading the Church, as Jesus had told him. Being human and making mistakes doesn’t disqualify us from serving God. Jesus loved Peter, and loved him to the end. That is how he loves us too.


Lord, I have done it again. I have messed up. I need your forgiveness, your grace, your cleansing power. Fill me with your Spirit, and strengthen me to live for you again. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 8.27-end

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.’