Mark 8:27-38 (ESV)
Who do you say that I am?
I have a question that I want to start with. Why are you here today? What brought you here? what dragged you out of bed and all the way to this old building? Did a friend invite you? Is coming to church a habit? So why are you here today? We are going to see in today’s text that Jesus asks his disciples a similar question.
Much like the question of why are you here today, why are we reading these stories? What is it all about?
Why do we care about these stories, about the way a specific man named Jesus interacted with a people group in the middle east in a world long ago? There are a few good reasons, one of which is that it is still relevant. We believe the text that we’ve been going through, the gospel of Mark, is a lot more critical and of more importance than any other story out there. These events had such an impact that thousands of years later we are still talking about them.
But most importantly, we show up at church and continue to read these stories to hear about it because of who we believe Jesus is.
I said Jesus challenges his disciples with a similar question in today’s text; He asks his disciples “who do you say that I am?” I think the sentiment he is getting at is “why are you following me?” what has this all been about? All of these people following him have given up what earthly goals and ambitions they had, and Jesus wants to know why. That is the first section we will look at.
In the second part of our text today, the disciples arrive at the truth of who he is, and Jesus doesn’t let them off the hook. There are some real consequences to the truth. His disciples had to face them, and so do we. Jesus tells his disciples there are two options. Either set your mind on me, or things of this world.
The last part of our text will explore what the consequences are for us. Jesus explains in no complicated terms what he expects us to do with this realization, how it is supposed to change our lives! If it hasn’t… Maybe God will use this morning to spark that very change.
As we dive in, we will let the text ask us a few questions. First, who is Jesus? Second, what is your mind set on? And lastly, how are you acting like Jesus is Lord?
27 And 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 told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
• Continuing his ministry, Jesus is now journeying to the next town. Here we take a break from the action of miracles and healings to listen in on a conversation between Jesus and his disciples on the road.
• Jesus asks his friends for the inside scoop.
• They have heard his preaching, seen his character and the way he interacts with the crowds, and the text tells us they repent and believe.
• Their answer tells us what the masses generally believed was that Jesus was a new prophet, or a patriarch back from the dead. They believe that he was from God, but they certainly did not comprehend that he WAS God.
• They think that Jesus is a good moral teacher, someone who is in a long string of messengers from God.
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
• Jesus says I don’t want to hear the noise. He asks his disciples, what are your convictions?
• Peter looked around, and speaks on behalf of the disciples. Certainly, they have talked about this before, this is no pop quiz. When Jesus calmed the storm, they asked themselves, who is this man?
• And Peter answers “The Christ”. What does that word mean? It is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “messiah”, or savior. The promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. Several times through the Old Testament the word messiah is used to describe someone who will come and save the nation of Israel.
• Peter is declaring on behalf of all the disciples that Jesus is in fact this promised rescuer, that he is who they have all been waiting for.
• This is a neat moment for the disciples, who have had trouble seeing the big picture throughout his ministry, this is quite a proclamation.
• He says to tell no one
31 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. 32 And he said this plainly.
• Jesus explains that the Messiah will be very different than the Jews have drawn it up. The Jewish leaders and traditions have taken some liberties and filled in the gaps with how the messiah is supposed to rescue them, and he sets it straight here.
• Once it is established that Jesus is the Christ, he tells them exactly what it means.
• He must be rejected by the elders and religious leaders, be killed and rise again.
• He said it plainly.
32b And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
• Peter, who JUST confessed Jesus to be the long-awaited rescuer, decides he wants to tell Jesus he is wrong. Peter wants a mighty ruler, and earthy king who will conquer their enemies.
• The Israelites had been physically and societally oppressed for so long that their understanding of a Rescuer had been boiled down to someone who would liberate the nation. That’s where their focus is.
• Peter does not like that the Christ plans on dying, that is incongruent with their needs.
• They need someone who will take up swords! Who will rally armies, command troops and galvanize resistance with lofty speeches and overthrow the Romans! But if he’s dead…
• They have seen Jesus raise people from the dead, but even so, they need him to be alive. Life can’t come from nothing, life creates life. A dead lifeguard can’t save anyone else from drowning.
33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
• Todd mentioned last week, we really like to tell God what to do. Here is how I drew it up
• Peter wants to give Jesus the crown without the cross. And Jesus knew the cross had to come first.
• The miracles are parables.
o Leading up to this conversation Jesus had just healed a blind man. The unique part of this healing only recorded in Mark is the two phased healing.
o Mark 8:23b-25 “When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
o The man first sees a little bit, and then his eyes are opened fully.
o If you think it’s cause Jesus couldn’t do it…
o The disciples start to see, but it is distorted. They don’t see the full picture yet.
• Jesus calls his followers to set their minds on the things of God
• The easy answer for Christians today when asked, what are the things of God, might be reading your bible. Praying. Going to church. Maybe tithing.
• Those aren’t bad things, but it will be difficult to do those things over the marathon that is your life if you mind is not set on Him.
• If the symptom is not wanting to read your bible, I would offer that the disease is not knowing him, understanding who Jesus really is.
• Leads to our last question, what does a life look like that is set on Him?
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?
• Jesus tells us his followers need to deny themselves.
• To deny yourself, ask what are the things you can’t go without? That your gut says you can’t deny, things you need? Is it your job? Career? Reputation? Financial stability, family ties? Jesus isn’t saying to avoid those things, but instead to put him first, as the priority in my life.
• He tells the crowd to take up their cross. Crucifixion was the most common form of execution back then. They did not have the visual that we do of Jesus actually carrying the cross up the hill.
• Does the phrase “lose your life” scare you? Do you think it means not getting to do anything fun or enjoyable?
• Sometimes being in the world convinces you it has value.
• There are things we build up in our lives, that we put value in, that when we step away from it, we realize are not of any value at all.
• and I think that is what Jesus is telling his followers. You cannot build value in this world. We trick ourselves to think that we can.
• Getting older we accumulate wealth, save money, home values appreciate, retirement accounts grow, we feel more confident, comfortable and safe.
• But it is all worth nothing, and we know that because we ask, what does it get you?
• You can judge value two ways. what does it get you or How much does something cost?
• If the cost is our lives, our souls, have we gotten good value? What does it profit a man to gain the world, at the cost of the only thing we have that matters.
• Jesus says the way to save our lives is to lay it down for him.
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
• Jesus does not want followers who are ashamed of him, in fact there is no such thing as a closeted follower.
• We may laugh that the disciples didn’t understand what it meant to be the Christ
• We are still figuring it out ourselves! There is so much we don’t know, some because we can’t and others because we don’t make the time
People ever since have been trying to figure out what to do with Jesus.
Liar, Lunatic or Lord trilemma.
“however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
We cannot stand with the people of Israel following him thinking he was a good moral teacher. The stakes are higher now, Jesus has not left us with that option.
I said at the start that we have an incredible God. He hatched this plan so long ago, so that he could bring us to himself. We as Christians today have the luxury of seeing the greater picture, but even so the messiah is greater than what our human minds could conceive.
The Jews were thinking too small when it came to the Christ. They had a legitimate physical need for a savior, so that is what they drew the Messiah to be. Can you blame them? Put yourself in the shoes of a Jew today.
I am sure they would love for someone from the line of David to bring home hostages, defeat their enemies. Bring Israel to peace and prosperity.
Yet God has more, his messiah did not come to do that. He came to unify mankind with himself, to bring eternal peace, to give us spiritual safety. Our need for rescue goes beyond physical safety. And that is why the Christ had to be God himself. Who came to suffer in our place, to die for us, and to bear our sin in a way that only God could do.
• Who do I think Jesus is?
• What is my mind set on? What does my life revolve around?
If something comes up, what do you have to clear? Getting to the gym? How is it going to make people feel? Do I have the money? Will I be able to get to bed on time?
• For me it can be trying to make the most of my time. Working and family responsibilities take up a lot of time, so I prioritize by asking am I getting good value out of this time spent? But I am a fool to think I know how to get better value out of my time than God does
At the start of the sermon, I asked why you decided to come to church today. There is only one reason that matters, and I pray it is true for you. It is that you know who Jesus is, that he is the Christ, Lord of your life, and it has caused a cosmic shift in how you live and prioritize your life.
9 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”