75. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Identity
Mark writing in Mark 8v27-33: 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 Christ. 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, chief priests and 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 things of God, but the things of men."
This section of the Bible contains the verse, which divulges Jesus’ identity, when Peter calls Him the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8v29). In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man.
1. See who Jesus is – (Mark 8v22) 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. Two things to remember though. Firstly that Jesus was unable to do miracles because of people’s lack of faith and we also need to remember that God does things in His own time and for His own purposes, but also acts 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.
2. Confess 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 1v17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
· John performed no miracles (John 10v41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
· John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1v8; Mark 1v6)
Jeremiah (Matthew 16v14)
· 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.
a 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 11v1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must suffer and die (Isaiah 53v1-12; Luke 24v26). 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 9v7; Daniel 7v13-14; Luke 1v33; Revelation 11v15)
b What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10v45)
Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16). 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.
3. Follow who Jesus is
When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8v33). Remember that they did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written his epistle 1 Peter, he did (1 Peter1v6-8, 1 Peter 4v13-5v10).
Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1v10-12)
Price to pay for true followers
· 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 8v21;1 John 4v1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12v1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10v9-10). 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 1v1-12. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, 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?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.