Summary: Do you go along with the crowd or can you with confidence, confess who Jesus is because you not only know who He is, but believe with your heart, mind and soul?
Our text today finds Jesus and his disciples in Caesarea Philippi on their way to Jerusalem. This gospel, most scholars agree, is the first one to be written in about 60 a.d. and the author writes about Jesus’ miracles and teaching ministry in the first half of the book. However, when we get to chapter 8, verse 27, Mark shifts his emphasis to the Jesus of the cross. Here is where the writer begins to teach about the true nature of the Messiah which includes predicting his death and discussing suffering.
The first half of the book gives you hints about Jesus’ identity, but it isn’t until the text we have before us today that we begin to learn that Jesus is more than a great teacher or healer. We begin to learn that Jesus is indeed the divine Son of God.
Let’s read the scripture before us today:
27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
I. Jesus begins by confronting his disciples.
A. Who do people say that I am?
1. Who does popular opinion say that I am?
2. It seems that everyone had an opinion about who they thought Jesus was but none thought he was God’s Son.
a. John the Baptist – a hero of the faith that had called the people to holiness and righteousness but King Herod had had him put to death.
b. Elijah – a great prophet from the past that some believed would come back to life and lead Israel to glory.
c. Prophet – others thought that Jesus was a great prophet, able to teach and speak the truth so that all could understand.
d. Everyone is trying to figure out who Jesus is but no one said that he was God’s Son!
3. Throughout Mark, Jesus has claimed divine power and authority.
a. He claimed God’s authority to forgive sin (Mark 2: 10) when he healed the paralytic man.
b. He claimed to be able to determine suitable Sabbath behavior (Mark 2:28) when the Pharisees challenged him and his disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath.
c. And he calls himself the Son of Man – a reminder to the Jews of Daniel’s heavenly son of man who is resurrected and returns as judge (Daniel 7: 13-14).
4. Throughout Mark, he shows who he is.
a. He heals, he teaches, he forgives, he multiplies food, he walks on water, he casts out demons, and he preaches the Good news of the kingdom of God.
b. And yet, the people and even his disciples don’t understand fully just who he is.
i. Theologians of the day thought Jesus himself was demon possessed (3:22).
ii. Even his mother and siblings thought that he had gone off the deep end and lost his mind (3:21).
iii. The only ones who really knew who Jesus was according to Mark were demons and they were scared! (1:24, 3:11, 5:7).
B. After finding out what the talk was among the people, he asked the disciples (his closest friends), “Who do YOU say that I am?”
1. They know that he can heal.
2. They know that he can cast out demons.
3. They know that he performs miracles.
4. They know that he is from God, anointed.
5. Peter speaks up – You are the Messiah, you are the Christ.
a. He was right, but only partially. Jesus is indeed the anointed one from God – that’s what Messiah means.
b. But Peter and the other disciples believed that the Messiah would powerfully restore Israel to the people and they would not have to endure Roman domination any longer.
i. They expected a great king like David.
ii. They expected someone to lead an army.
iii. They never expected the Messiah to suffer and die.
c. His response was the confident, pious remark of someone who thought that they knew Jesus.
II. Everyday we are confronted by these same questions.
A. Who do people say that Jesus is? Who do you say that Jesus is?
1. If you say Son of God, Messiah, do you know what you are saying? There comes a time when you must acknowledge what Jesus means to you.
2. Do you really understand God’s Power and Purpose through Jesus? There comes a time when you must confess what Jesus means to you.
3. Or do you go along with the crowd because you think you know Jesus? There comes a time in your life that you must be able to stand separate from the crowd of popular opinion in order to proclaim just what Jesus means to you!