Summary: The 2000 year old question that has puzzled the man in the street as well as theologians over the centuries is this: Who is Jesus. I like Peter’s reply!
Sermon: Mk 8:27-38 IC 17-09-06
Jesus has been the subject of much controversy down the centuries.
Some people claim he never existed.
Some even claim that he wasn’t a person but the code for a hallucinatory drug!
Some think that Dan Brown has it right in his fictional book “The Di Vinci code”.
It seems to me incredible that people can actually believe this yarn is true without a shed of evidence. But it you connect the Roman Catholic Church with conspiracy you’ll always be on to a winner!
What Dan Brown seems to have tapped into is man’s innate desire to be in on a secret – and particularly where there is an apparent conspiracy involved?
For those of you who haven’t read the Da Vinci code Dan Brown claims that the Roman Catholic Church suppressed the real life of Jesus!!
In the Gospel according to Dan Brown, Jesus isn’t divine, he didn’t die on the Cross.
Instead He married Mary Magdalene, who bore a child Sarah to him after his death, and his descendants are still around today – a truth kept hidden by the secret society known as the Priory of Sion.
And the Holy Grail is in fact the Body of Mary Magdalene!
The book is action packed – and when I read it I couldn’t put it down. But it is just that - a story and its fundamental claims have no historical foundation.
There is some wonderful logic in it. Take for example Brown’s main evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a pair?
In The Da Vinci Code, one of the characters, Robert Langdon – a Harvard Ph.D. no less asserts that
“the social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried.” (DVC, p. 245).
So Jesus was of course married – he had to be!
It’s as daft a statement as saying that as, “Most British prime ministers have been men; therefore Margaret Thatcher had to be a man.”
Our Gospel reading opens opens with Jesus asking his disciples a question that has intrigued both philiosophers and theologians as well as the man on the street for at least 2000 years.
Who do you think Jesus is?
Mark 8:27 sets the scene:
27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
And it is clear from their response that it was a hot topic at the time
28 “They disciples replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others one of the other prophets."
But it wasn’t just the crowds who were talking about Jesus.
His own disciples were asking the same question.
We read on in Mk 8 :29
29Then he asked them. "But what about you?"
Peter answered, "You are the Christ.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Mt 16:16, it records that Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."
It is one of those water shed moments in the Gospel – Peter’s realisation of who Jesus really is
I would like to look at Simon Peter’s answer:
16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
and two questions:
1. What did Peter mean then– and
2. What does this mean to us today.
1. What did Peter mean when he said “ You are the Christ the Son of the living God”
The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah – which simply means God’s anointed One
There were three types of people who would be anointed:
And in Jesus we find all three.
The Jews were expecting a Messiah who “would exercise God’s rule over God’s people” (The Message of Matthew – Michael Green p, 178)
But Jesus wasn’t the all conquering hero that the Jews were expecting – similar to Judas Maccabeus who had chased the occupying powers out in BC 167
Rather he was the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
The last prophet in the Old Testament Malachi prophesied three hundred years before Jesus was born and said this:
1 "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. (Mal 3:1)
Peter recognised Jesus as the Messiah – the one sent by God.
But he recognised more. That Jesus wasn’t just human – but that he was divine too.
For a Jew like St Peter was – this was a seismic shift in his thinking – to call Jesus the Son of God.
All his life Peter had been taught that there is one God and never to worship a man as God.