Our passage for today is from Mark 8:27-38 (Read)
Last Sunday as we looked at the story from Mark 8, we learned about the unbelief of the Pharisees and the disciples. We looked at the fruit and the root of their unbelief.
In the Pharisees the fruit was their demanding nature and the root was the sin barrier and in the disciples the fruit was lack of discernment and the root was worry.
We saw how Jesus addresses those two issues and now in our passage today Jesus and the disciples are on their way to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
This moment to me looks like a perfect example of discipleship where Jesus after having a prolonged conversation with the disciples about their unbelief is now digging deep into their hearts to see if they’ve got it all right and have clarity about who he is.
He starts the conversation by asking two questions:
Who do people say that I am?
Who do you say that I am?
It’s like what generally happens in our GC’s (Gospel Community) where the leader starts the conversation by asking what did we think about the sermon this morning? – Then there is a dead silence for a couple of minutes and then one guy starts the conversation giving some bits and pieces here and there and others pick up from there and start sharing their thoughts and convictions.
But every time the leader asks that question he is expecting a specific answer – He wants to know whether we have understood the overarching essence of the word and whether it has really addressed our unbelief, sin, ignorance of our hearts and have pointed us to the Gospel.
After spending so much time with Jesus and to see him do all the miracles, Jesus wanted to know what the disciples thought about him. Whether they realized who Jesus really is.
Referring to his previous conversation, Jesus wanted to see whether they now have the eyes that can see and ears that can hear.
Like the blind man, who was healed by Jesus in two attempts – He wanted to know whether they still see trees or men.
The answer to Jesus’s first question which is “Who do people say that I am?“, the disciples said some call you “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets”
Immediately, Jesus asked them “Who do you say I am?“
I don’t know if there was a dead silence at that moment, or whether they started looking at each other’s face. But Peter, the smart guy, always ready to say something, answered , “You are the Christ.“
We might not see Peter’s answer as a big deal today because from this side of the Jesus story we know he is Christ. But for Peter to address Jesus as Christ at that time was a big deal.
To an outsider Jesus was a normal looking man just like you and me, the event happens in the midst of a strong religious culture, surrounded by people with super religious sentiments about God. Calling Jesus as Christ would be considered a heresy, Peter could have been beheaded for saying that.
And that is why Jesus strictly charges them not to tell anybody about him.
Following that revelation by Peter, Jesus then teaches them on what’s going to happen next according to the scriptures. He says “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.“
We see here that Peter got the revelation right but when he heard the facts about whats going to happen next, he couldn’t come to terms with what’s going to happen to Jesus, he did not want to such a terrible thing happen to his master whom he loved the most, maybe he was also worried that along with Jesus they will also be punished.
He valued Jesus’s life and their lives on earth more important.
Instead of setting his mind on the heavenly things – the overarching purpose of God glorifying himself through the sacrifice of his son and bringing redemption to human kind.
Peter is influenced by Satan to think from a worldly perspective. He takes Jesus aside and rebukes him.
I’m assuming Peter must have told Jesus, why are you saying that – nothing will happen to you. You’re doing great – A couple of years more and our ministry will flourish and we can be the most popular people on earth. Why are you talking about death.
But Jesus in the presence of all other disciples rebukes Peter and says “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
And immediately after that Jesus calls the crowd to him along with his disciples and says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.“
As I was trying to imagine the expressions on Jesus’s face, I could sense the seriousness in his eyes and the tone of his voice. If I have to paraphrase that statement it would sound like Jesus telling them that I’m not joking about, I’m serious that if you want to come after me, you better be prepared to deny yourself and take up your cross.
If you think this life here on earth is everything and that your goal in life is make much of yourself. Then you better know that “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.“
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
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.”
This passage has some really good one liner verses that we can pick up and put it on a frame. But its only when we look at the whole passage as a conversation we see what Jesus is actually trying to say to us. They verses are not just meant to be framed and hanged on a wall.
These words of Jesus calls for our serious attention – it changes our perspectives and motives in life.
So, what do we learn from this passage?
I believe in the light of these scriptures the first thing we need to ask ourselves is “Who do we think Jesus is to us?“
Now that we are on this other side of the Jesus story where you can see backwards into history, and been in a safe environment we can easily say that “Jesus is Christ”.
But please don’t look at it as a plain statement, anyone on the road can say that along with you if you offer him a price. It’s not just saying or knowing for the matter – it is really about BELIEVING.
But when we talk about believing, does believing Jesus is Christ, the Son of God and believing Donald Trump is the President of America the same thing?
If it is the same thing than Devil himself will say that he believes that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God.
When Jesus came into the world and began to confront the demonic powers of the Devil, they said out loud, “We know who you are. You are the holy one of God. You are the Son of God.”
We don’t say we believe Jesus is Christ because my friend says so, or my parents taught me so. If our belief is based on someone else’s belief than our belief is not a true belief.
What is missing is not believing in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God but delighting in that fact, embracing that fact, and making Christ the treasure and the Lord of your life by surrendering to him. Fully putting our faith in Jesus and his finished work on the cross where he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, restoring our broken relationship with God the Father against whom we’ve sinned.
True “belief” is seeing him for who he really is, seeing him as infinitely valuable as the Son of God. It’s not just acknowledging the fact that he is the Son but also seeing him as infinitely precious and valuable.
Satan, on the other hand, does not view God as precious and valuable. He hates Christ and Christ is a threat to his own value.
How do we know that we truly believe “Jesus is Christ”?
The answer in is verses 34 – 38
If we truly believe and call ourselves followers of Christ then we will walk by the Spirit and daily deny ourselves, deny to focus on the things of the world, deny to give in to temptations that cause us to stumble – deny ourselves through a lifestyle of repentance and faith.
And endure the pain that comes by denying our self and the world by carrying our cross daily.
It’s on our vision statement, the third point under Jesus.
If we truly believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God then we will be willing to lose our lives for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. – Willing to sacrifice everything to take the gospel to those who do not have it. (2 point in our vision statement, under Mission)
If we truly believe that Jesus is Christ, we will not be ashamed of Christ and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation. – we will be distinct from the world in the way we love and serve one another. (2 point in our vision under Family)
If these attributes are absent in our lives. If we only come to church and GC (Gospel Community) because my friend comes here, or my parents brought me here, or because I get to hang out with cool people and spend my Sunday well. Then brothers and sisters, we’ve totally got it wrong.
We are still a blind man and a blind women.
But today as we hear this message Jesus is inviting us, with open arms he is calling us. Calling us to put our trust in him, belief in him. He is willing to fill us with his Spirit that will give us the courage to endure the hardships of this world and to live a life that pleases him.