Summary: Jesus asks a crucial question of His disciples - a question that every single person in all of creation and all of history must answer. How you answer may be influenced by a crucial lack in your life - a lack Je
Resurrection Sunday is a day of celebration. Today, in the 21st century, we sing upbeat songs, we put out lilies, and we exchange greetings like “He is risen. He is risen indeed!” It is a day of great joy. Such was not the atmosphere on the very first Resurrection Sunday. For most people it was a day like any other—in fact, a day to get back to work. For most Jews it was the day after a big event: the Passover. But for a small group of Jewish men and women, it was a day of sadness, grief, turmoil, churning stomachs, fear—and confusion. Rather than starting out a normal Sunday, the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were holed up, scared to death that they would be targeted for execution next—as the previous Friday they had lost the One they had placed their hope upon. But it needn’t have been this way, had they paid closer attention to an event that took place a little earlier on. We find it in Mark chapter 8.
Mark 8:22 – 26
Bethsaida Julius was a large village of around 15,000 situated on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was also Peter’s home town. This is like the miracle earlier in the chapter with the deaf/mute in that Jesus took them both aside, used saliva, and did not publicize it. This miracle is recorded only here.
It’s a great bridge from the spiritually blind disciples to the physically blind man. Like the deaf man, Jesus touched him—first leading him physically out of the village, then touching his eyes and laying His hands on Him. Imagine what it would be like to have the hands of Jesus rest upon you!
This is the only miracle where there are stages in the healing. If this man were blind from birth he would not know what trees or people “looked” like, only what they “felt” like. So it’s possible that Jesus had restored the “physical” apparatus needed for sight, but now needed to heal the mental capacity for his brain to interpret the signals from his retinas.
Jesus told the man go to home perhaps because He did not want a bunch of people needing healing to come to Him right then—He had some other very important things to do. Though Jesus had compassion on the physical needs of people, He never lost sight of His ultimate mission—to heal souls through the cross. He was about to reveal this mission openly.
27 – 30
Caesarea Philippi is a beautiful area of Israel, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 25 miles north of Bethsaida. It was primarily a Roman area. Jesus avoided the city itself and instead went to the surrounding villages. His question for the disciples was to provoke them to think deeper about what they had seen and heard. There were many public opinions about who Jesus was—John the Baptist raised, Elijah who was taken up in a fiery chariot, or one of the other prophets. But Jesus wasn’t interested primarily in public opinion. He wanted to know what they thought.
“Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word that means “anointed.” It comes from Psalms 2:2 “the Lord and his anointed.” It was a person promised by the Scriptures that would rescue Israel. Peter is sure of who the Messiah is; he is a little fuzzy on what the Messiah would do. Jesus says in Matthew 16 that Peter got this idea of the Messiah from God and not man.
Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah – but when we look at him later, after the resurrection, he doesn’t seem to get it. You’d think after Jesus rose Peter would be all over it saying “Remember, Jesus – I was the one who said you were the Messiah?” But he is very tentative.
Mark 16:10-14 says that Peter and the boys simply didn’t believe that Jesus had risen.
In John 20:3-10 Peter and John ran to the tomb but only John believed. After, they simply went home. In verse 19 we find them cowering for fear behind locked doors. What happened to the bravado of “You are the Messiah!”?
It’s because Peter’s Messiah didn’t make room for death. Had Peter really been listening, he would have heard all he needed to prepare for Good Friday—and Resurrection Sunday.
Now that Jesus’ real identity was confirmed to His men, He could be much more frank about what that role meant. But Peter’s idea of Messiah followed the popular belief that He was a warrior king who would come to return Israel to world prominence and throw off the Roman yoke. We are always interested in what gets us what we want now—but Jesus knew the real mission was much bigger than that.