The Gospel of Mark – Part 29
You are the Christ – Mark 8:27-3o
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – March 8th, 2020
- In our passage for today Jesus asks a very important question of each one of us: “Who do you say that I am?” Your answer to this question says a lot about your understanding and spiritual condition. And there is so much riding on this question.
- At this point in His ministry, Jesus had displayed so much of who He was by what He had taught and done. There seemed nothing too difficult for Him. In His teaching and in His actions, He was fulfilling Old Testament Scriptures while authoritatively teaching from them.
- Everyone was forming an opinion about Him, and He had become the person that everyone was curious and coversing about. There were several men He had called to be His disciples. They spent the most time with Jesus and had an up close and personal relationship with Him. Jesus had even given them authority to teach, heal and cast out demons! They were amazed what they were able to do, and they were amazed at what Jesus taught and did. And now the question, “Who do you say that I am?”
- After Jesus healed the blind man in a two-step process, building his faith and communicating what was to come in the “opening of the eyes” of the disciples, this is what comes next:
Mark 8:27a ESV
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples,
- They were at the town of Bethsaida, the hometown of Peter, Philip and Andrew and they headed up north around 25 miles with an ascent of around 2,000 feet in elevation. They were directionally heading north and physically heading up (this was true of what was happening spiritually as well). They were going to a town and region that was a center of idolatry and pagan religion. It was there that Herod the Great had built a temple in honor of Caesar. His son Philip had made the temple more elaborate and it became a spectacle that was known far beyond the region. All of this was done to encourage the worship of Caesar as a god.
- It was not by accident that this is the road that Jesus asked His disciples directly who they and others thought that He was. They were physically heading up, and spiritually heading up. They were going to the place where Caesar was worshiped as god. It is along this way where Jesus asked those who were with Him who they thought that He was.
- May powerful things happen “along the way” both in the life of the disciples then and in the lives of the disciples now. The destination is of first importance, and the process of getting there is also important as well. It was on this way that Jesus first asked them, “Who do people say that I am?”
Mark 8:27b-28 ESV
“Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
Who do people say that I am?
- There were a lot of differing opinions around the identity of Jesus at that time. The common opinion was that he was indeed a religious figure, but who? Some thought he was John the Baptist come back to life with greater powers, authority, etc. Others thought that he was Elijah, the one that was to come before the messiah appeared on the scene (Mal. 4:5), whereas others thought that he was a new prophet that had come along the lines of the prophets of old (it had been at least 400 years since the last prophet was ministering). There was consensus that Jesus was indeed a religious figure, but the people in large and perhaps none at all, held the opinion that Jesus was the messiah (even though the demons knew who He was and tried to make it known [Mark 1:24, 3:11, 5:7]). Even now, in our day, there are many opinions about who Jesus is. People think he was a man, that he was a fraud, that he was a messenger, that he was myth, that he was an enlightened teacher, that he was the Christ. Some have not even heard about him.
- This is the society that they lived in, and this is the society that we live in. There are many different opinions and many different thoughts about who he is. There was and still is confusion about the one called Jesus. There are societal thoughts about him, and then there are individual and personal thoughts about him. Jesus then gets personal with them, and he also gets personal with us. Because each one of us has to answer the question about his identity.
Mark 8:29-30 ESV
And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Who do you say that I am?
- This is where it gets personal and this is where we are primarily accountable. Who do you say that he is? Do you go along with what others are saying, or do you have your own opinion? This is not about what others think but about what you think. And you must give time to this question, because it matters.
- In your investigation, you should look at all the evidence and all the options. You should look at what is recorded about him. You should look at the Bible as a whole. You should look at what he did and what he taught. You should look at what Jesus said about himself. Consider all the evidence and then make a choice. Don’t come to your conclusion because of what society tells you to believe. Don’t come to your conclusion based upon what the church tells you to believe. Come to your conclusion based upon the evidence and then draw your conclusion as to what you will believe. What is true is true, and once it is yours, it will change you, it will shape you, it will make you.
- It is also critical to note the role of God in this process. Matthew records Jesus’ reaction to Peter when he answered with, “You are the Christ.”
Matt 16:17 ESV
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
- God is the one who reveals the true identity of the Son. It is His working. We cannot and we will not see God unless He reveals Himself to us. The question is, do you have eyes to see?
Why this matters
- Jesus said that he is the messiah, that he is the Christ, that he is the Son of God, that he is God. Every person has to come to terms with his claim. I think there are four main options and results to our belief about his identity.
- Number 1: if you say no, he is not God and he is not God, then our belief does not matter because he has no power or authority and what he says we cannot trust. He is one among many, and none of our beliefs really matter because there is no absolute truth (and then really nothing really matters at all).
- Number 2: if you say no, he is not God and He is God, then it does matter what you believe, and He and His words are authoritative. You will have to give an account to Him of your life and He will decide your eternal fate based upon what is true and your relationship to Him. If this is true and you get it wrong, the stakes could not be any higher.
- Number 3: if you say yes, He is God and he is not God, then you have been spectacularly misled and as Paul has said, then we are to be “pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:19). That we have given and we have gone, that we have suffered, and we have sacrificed, that we have lived our life in vain. Then we are the greatest fools of all.
- Number 4: if you say yes that He is God and He is God, then everything matters. His words matter, His life matters, your words matter and your life matters. If this is true that what He says will happen, and eternity will be determined just as He said, and there will be great reward for you, and you live eternally. If this is true, then what else is of more importance than Him, and what He says, and what He tells us to do? If this is true, then the wisest person would give themselves fully to Him and give themselves completely to Him. We would live our lives for Him, and through Him, and in Him.
- You must decide, and then live accordingly. Really investigate, really look, really know and then really live. If you are a believer and you believe the truth of who Jesus is and the truth that is written in the Bible, then give yourself fully to it. If you are not a believer, then give yourself fully to investigation to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?”
- At this point in the disciple’s journey with Jesus, their eyes became “partially opened.” They believed who He was, now they next needed to know what He was going to do and why this mattered. The rest of the book focuses on this, and Jesus tells them what will happen, and then He lives out what He said will happen.
- We know the rest of the story, that He did indeed suffer and die just as He said, and He did indeed rise again just as He said, proving that indeed He is God and He can be trusted. Because He lives, we can be forgiven of our sins and we will be given eternal life. Jesus said:
John 11:25-26 NIV
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”