Summary: The message of Christ, which we heard this morning, is not easy to accept and especially not easy to follow, but its truth cannot be dismissed if we are sincerely seeking God.
HE SPOKE OPENLY
Mk. 8:27-38 Matt. 10:34; 16:16 Lk. 9:20 1 Cor. 15:24-25 2 Tim. 2:11–13
The message of Christ, which we heard this morning, is not easy to accept and especially not easy to follow. Yet, its truth cannot be dismissed if we are sincerely seeking God. Consequently, many want to take the teachings of the Bible and water them down, make them more palatable for the common person, less harsh and a bit easier to both accept and to follow. Even Peter had a very hard time accepting them as we see in verse 33 when Jesus rebuked him. Nevertheless, we must accept them if we hope for God’s truth.
T. J. Tipton once told this story. George W. Bush was in an airport lobby when he noticed a man with a long white beard, wearing a long white robe and holding some stone tablets under his arm. George W. approached the man and inquired, "Aren’t you Moses?" The man ignored George W. and stared at the ceiling. George W. positioned himself more directly in the man’s view and asked again, "Aren’t you Moses?" The man continued to stare at the ceiling. George W. tugged at the man’s sleeve and asked again, "Aren’t you Moses?"
The man finally responded in an irritated voice, "Yes I am".
George W. asked him why he was so unfriendly and Moses replied, "The last time I spoke to a Bush I had to spend forty years in the wilderness.”
• Understanding God’s Truth comes at a cost. Sometimes that cost is very high, and all the time it requires a sacrifice. That sacrifice might be our time and resources, but it always includes that most difficult sacrifice of all . . . our total surrender. God is never content with half-hearted efforts.
The place where Jesus delivered his revelation in Mark 8 was Caesarea Philippi, about 25 miles north of Bethsaida and the Sea of Galilee. It stands on the southern edge of Mount Hermon and today is called Banias. One of the sources of the Jordan River originates from under a large rocky cliff that rises a hundred or more feet above the village. Many idols were carved into that rock facade. The contrast between Jesus Christ and these local gods was striking—a perfect place for Christ to ask the question of v. 29, “Who do you say that I am?”
• Stone idols, like those of the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, were created in man’s effort to explain the mysteries of the world. Instinctively, people have always sought some way to explain the mysteries of life and thereby try to acquire some degree of control over the frequently frightening elements of nature surrounding them . . . as well as the physical and spiritual drives within themselves.
• God, however, created us to have a relationship with Him that requires humility and not control. But pride had driven people to reject the true God and to create their own gods instead; gods fashioned after their own desires.
Knowing this about the heart of man, Jesus had to prepare the hearts of his disciples to receive a higher degree of insight than they had previously known. In verse 29, Jesus set the stage by asking for their opinions. The disciples’ answers reflected the popular misconceptions held by most who had heard or heard of Jesus. They were the attitudes of Herod and others who said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’”
Jesus then emphatically asked them for their own understanding. The word “you”, “Who do YOU say that I am?” is prominent in Jesus’ question. Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” Matthew 16:16 says, “You are the Messiah; Son of the Living God.” Luke 9:20 says, “You are the Messiah of God.” It was the ultimate revelation. Jesus wanted His disciples to grasp His true identity before He revealed to them the necessity of His coming death and Resurrection. Only by knowing his true authority could they ever hope to have confidence in his ultimate victory. Yet, even so, they still doubted.
Only the disciples were told who Jesus was. The opposition of the religious leaders and the disciples’ dullness was suddenly overshadowed by Peter’s wonderful confession, the revelation given to him by God.
Lisa DeLay writes in “Wit 4 Life”, “I’m reminded of my daughter trying on her father’s shoes. It was so endearing to see her walk around thinking she didn’t look utterly ridiculous. To her nothing was wrong with clomping around in shoes 14 inches longer than her chubby little feet. She was all at once very silly and very lovable to me. I think that must be how God sees us as we make up our guesses about Him.”