7. Jesus’ Identity
Mark 8:27-33: Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’
They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
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. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
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.’
This section of the Bible contains the verse, which divulges Jesus’ identity, when Peter calls Him the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8:29). In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man.
See who Jesus is – (Mark 8:22) reveals that the faith of others apart from the blind man was also involved
There are two very obvious questions that come out of this.
Why did Jesus touch the blind man twice to heal him? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that Jesus kept on until the man could see clearly. There are two things to remember. Firstly that Jesus was unable to do miracles because of people’s lack of faith. Secondly, we also need to remember that God does things in His own time and for His own purposes always acting in order to tell us of His love for us.
Why does Jesus tell the man not to tell anybody? Jesus didn’t want to be seen as only a healer and miracle worker.
Confession of who Jesus is
Now we come to a climactic part of the Gospels when Jesus asks His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?
John the Baptist
- Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry.
- John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
- John performed no miracles (John 10:41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
- John even dressed like the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6)
Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14)
- Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’
- Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
- Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people.
- Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.
- Those in authority persecuted both men.
In both His works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message.
Why did Jesus tell the disciples to keep quiet about Him?
Disciples had much to learn about him and what it meant to follow him. The Jews were expecting a victorious Messiah (Isaiah 11:1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must suffer and die (Isaiah 53:1-12; Luke 24:26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15)
What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10:45)
Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3:16). His purpose as the Messiah was neither that He be served nor that He will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, His purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people.
Follow who Jesus is
When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8:33). They did not yet understand how suffering and glory were in relationship with each other. However by the time Peter had written 1 Peter, he had correlated the two as being in harmony with each other. (1 Peter1:6-8, 1 Peter 4:13-5:10). Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1:10-12)
There is a price to pay for being true followers of Jesus:
- We must surrender completely to him.
- We must identify with him in his suffering and death.
- We must follow him obediently, wherever he leads.
What is the reward for the true disciple of Jesus?
- Satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
- God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.
Spiritually, at this time, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind.
Our confession of Jesus is a matter of life and death (John 8:21;1 John 4:1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12:1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10:9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus, to take up their cross and this could mean nothing less than being ready to suffer and die for Jesus. If we are ashamed of him on earth, he will be ashamed of us when the end of the world has come. He will reward those deserving the reward, and deny those who deny him.
For more to think about please do read 1 Peter 1:1-12. Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. What does Jesus’ revealed identity as Saviour offer me as a Christian Disciple?
Q2. How does knowing Jesus’ identity help me as I undergo trials, suffering and bad times?
Q3. What part does each member of the Trinity play in my life as a Christian Disciple?