Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” And He warned them to tell no one about Him. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Mark 8:27-33
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
We noted at the beginning of our series from the Gospel of Mark that the author starts off his account of the life of Christ by calling it, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to make a difference and that is truly good news (gospel). So far in this series we have been seeing the “difference” Jesus makes. The miraculous actions of Jesus have blessed the lives of many and his teachings have shaken the religious establishment to the core. Through all of the ministry efforts of Jesus as people are exposed to this amazing person, opportunity abounds for any and everyone to get on board with who he really is and what his kingdom is really all about. And yet, even though the impact of Christ’s presence is remarkable, as we have been seeing this week there is little comprehension by anyone (even his closest disciples) in regard to who he really is and what his kingdom is really all about.
It is Jesus’ concern regarding “comprehension” by his disciples that leads to what he does in today’s passage. First, he asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” and then he asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter gives the right answer (“the Christ” equals “the Messiah”) but very quickly shows that he does not comprehend the true meaning of his answer. Notice what Jesus says in response to Peter giving the right answer, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Peter and the rest of the disciples want a “conquering” Messiah and not a “suffering” Messiah.
Jesus will someday come to earth a second time when he will rule and reign as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Jesus did not come the first time to conquer the world but rather through suffering, provide a way for the world to be fixed one person at a time. Peter is so caught up in the prevailing expectation of what the Messiah will be and do that he actually rebukes Jesus for his words that sound like defeat. Jesus in return rebukes Peter with these startling words, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Peter and the disciples would have done well to remember two things John the Baptist said: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection provide forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins makes us a suitable residence for the Holy Spirit of God. At the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of how God intervenes and fixes this world one person at a time. Our living Savior forever becomes to us the source of “newness of life” as He dwells within us through the Holy Spirit. He accomplishes in us and through us that which otherwise would never come about no matter how hard we might try to live up to the standards Christ alone lived by and fulfilled. Truly and surely, we learn to let it be that the life we live is His doing. This is the ultimate difference Jesus came to make. This is the true focus of God’s “interests” for all mankind and we would to do well to make sure our interests are fully aligned with his.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
This would be a great day to compose your own prayer response to God. In your own words answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Then express to him the expectations you have for the difference you will let him make in your life.