Summary: Jesus continues to work at opening the eyes of our hearts so that we follow him on the road of obedience.
This is our third look at the book of Mark. Let’s keep in mind that Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem. We don’t have time to examine this idea in detail, but just as we talked about 6 boat rides two weeks ago, in this section you can find 6 references to Jesus on the way or on the road. (8:27, 10:52)
Everyone who has been in school has probably done this. The teacher gives a test or asks a question. You quickly put up your hand or write your answer, and bravo! Your answer is correct, but you don’t have a clue what it means.
1. Two test questions
That’s the way it was for Jesus’ disciples. In the first part of Mark’s gospel everyone was amazed at the things Jesus said and the miracles Jesus did and they started asking, “Who is this man?” Even the disciples had a hard time figuring out who he was. Finally, after six boat trips across the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, Jesus gave a pop quiz and he asked two questions.
In 8:27 he asked “Who do people say that I am?”
In 8:29 he asked “Who do you say that I am?”
Regarding the first question, the disciples had their ears to the ground. They knew what other people were thinking. After all, if you are going to help people understand Jesus, you need to understand them. If you are going to minister to the needs of other people, you need to know what their needs are. The disciples get credit for getting that much right.
But the second question is even more important, because if you say you are a follower of Jesus and don’t know who he is, then you are either a liar or you are terribly confused. You need to know who Jesus is to you. It has become rather fashionable to wear clothing with WWJD on it. “What would Jesus do?” is a good question to ask. It’s probably even more important, though, to ask WWJWMTD. (What would Jesus want me to do?)
Next month at the annual conference of our denomination, a question will be brought to the floor that asks a question about who Jesus is. One congregation is asking for a statement of clarification about the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. In the nineties our denomination made statements describing Jesus as the “Son of God, Savior of the world, and head of the church.” And there have been other statements about the uniqueness of Jesus. But some writers have said things that aren’t so clear. So, this query is asking for a separate, clear statement about who Jesus is.
You see, if we are going to continue the work of Jesus, we need to know who he is. If we are going to minister in the name of Jesus, we need to know what that name is. The Bible says there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. And if we don’t know who Jesus is here, there may come a time there when he will say he doesn’t know us. So Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter was ready with his answer: You are the Messiah. Hooray for Pete. He got it right, didn’t he? After all, look at Mark 1:1. “This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” So why didn’t Jesus slap him on the back and give him a high five and say “Good job!” Get out there and tell everyone. Let’s close the book and go home. But Jesus doesn’t do that.
And we get the impression that it became awfully quiet. Everybody was holding their breath.
I think it must have been like what happened outside our house Friday morning at 2:00. A highway patrolman pulled over a young man in his car. From our upstairs window we could see what was going on. The patrolman pointed his flashlight at the feet of this young man and asked him to walk a straight line. Then the patrolman asked him to hold one foot up. I’m sure his girlfriend was holding her breath to see if he would pass the test. He didn’t. The patrolman handcuffed him and took him away. After all, if you are going to be out on the road, you’d better be sober and able to drive.
The same for Peter. If you’re going to be on the road with Jesus, then you’d better know who he is. You not only need to know the answer to the question of who he is, you need to know the meaning of the answer. If you say he is Lord of your life, what does that mean?