These verses are the thematic midpoint of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus has been calling disciples, healing, feeding, teaching with authority and many people are talking about him. He asks his disciples about his public reputation. Then he asks them who they say he is. All the answers are only partially correct, even Peter’s because Peter still misunderstands what Jesus intends MESSIAH to truly mean. Lets read together:
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Jesus Predicts His Death
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
The Way of the Cross
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
As post Resurrection disciples of Jesus, we know more than the crowds and Peter. We know what Jesus means when he redefines Messiah by his life, death and Resurrection. Even though we know more because we have the benefit of the New Testament and 2000 years of history we don’t know everything. As years pass and I hear Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” I realize that I know far less than I realize. Jesus is far more than I can imagine.
This reading by Saint Augustine from A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, (pg. 343) help me continue to grow as a disciple, even though I know less and live less perfectly as a disciple than I hope.
The house of my soul is too small for you to enter: make it more spacious by your coming. It lies in ruins: rebuild it. Some things are to be found there which will offend your gaze; I confess this to be so and know it well. But who will clean my house? To whom but yourself can I cry, Cleanse me of my hidden sins, O Lord, and for those incurred through others, pardon your servant? I believe, and so I will speak. You know everything, Lord. Have I not laid my own transgressions bare before you to my own condemnation, my God, and have you not forgiven the wickedness of my heart? I do not argue my case against you, for you are truth itself; nor do I wish to deceive myself, lest my iniquity be caught in its own lies. No, I do not argue the case with you because if you, Lord, keep the score of our iniquities, then who, Lord, can bear it?
From The Confessions by Saint Augustine
Discipleship is not about being right – it is about being in a relationship – connection to Jesus. Part of all healthy relationships is to know and be known by others. All that is good, bad, and ugly and still to be in relationship.
EVERYONE will be asked to answer Jesus’ question. Don’t be concerned about being “right” or “wrong”. Focus on being in a relationship and answer with your heart, not your head. Our feeble answer is never correct except that we do faithfully respond to Jesus. Jesus loves you and will forgive you and will lead and guide you every day as you remain faithfully connected in a relationship to him.
Jesus is the Messiah. My Lord and SAVIOR.
Blessings, Pastor Tom