“Who do you say I am?” It’s a question Jesus asks each of us, and the answer we give ultimately determines our destiny. But our answer involves more than what we say with our lips. Our real answer is to be found in the way we live our lives.
In chapter 8 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus is shown feeding the 4,000 and healing a blind man. In both of the stories, the disciples, Pharisees and religious leaders still missed the point. They wanted more, they wanted some special sign that Jesus was who He declared He was. It wasn’t enough for Him to miraculously feed the 4,000 and still have left overs of food. The Pharisees asked for more, they wanted a sign from Heaven. This comes after Jesus told them that it’s not what you eat which makes them unclean but what’s inside their hearts. Jesus just sighed from deep within Him because they just did not get it. Because of their stubborn hearts, Jesus said there will be no sign given to that generation. Often times we treat Jesus as Santa or a genie, only asking for signs to believe, the blessings and gifts without actually seeking His heart. How do we treat Jesus? Is this who we truly believe He is?
In the boat, the disciples started talking about not having food. Jesus was really upset about this. He asked them if they still have not understood what He was trying to teach them and the Pharisees. He told them to not be like the Pharisees who were like yeast. Yeast represents sin. The Pharisees knew the law inside and out, followed it religiously, and yet had no heart in it. They used the law to judge others but not as the law intended. Jesus did not want the disciples to miss the point. Jesus provided for the people’s needs earlier, surely the disciples needs were covered. Why were they mithering over temporary earthly things? Very often in life, we forget the blessings that Jesus provides and how He has been there for us. He has never left us nor forsaken us. We tend to go on in life and life hits us hard. In hard times we can do like the disciples in the boat and look at the temporary, or we can remember what Christ has done for us in the past, know that He is in control and trust Him. Who do we say Christ is in times of trouble?
After getting out of the boat, Jesus cures a blind man. Jesus spat in His hands and placed them onto the man’s eyes. The man could see a bit but not fully. People looked like fuzzy trees. Jesus placed His hands on the man a second time and then the man was healed and able to see. He told the man not to go into town but to go home. Sometimes we see Christ dimly and not the full true picture. If we allow Christ to touch us again and again, we will see Him more clearly.
Jesus asked the disciples, who do the people say He is. They answered John the Baptists, Elijah or one of the prophets. The religious teachers say Elijah was to come before the Messiah. They did not believe Jesus was the Messiah because they expected Elijah to come first. They also expected Jesus to take control of the kingdom and overthrow Caesar and save them all from Roman oppression. Then Jesus asked the disciples who do they say He is. Peter says that He is the Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus then told the disciples what was to happen to Him with His future death and resurrection. Peter, bless his heart, reacted strongly to Jesus. Peter rebuked Jesus. I suppose Peter was thinking “but Jesus we only just got to know You, You are a dear friend, we do not lose you. You can’t die, it’s not right.” Peter wanted Jesus to stay. Peter spoke from his flesh, within human limits and weakness. Jesus rebukes Peter in return and said “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Messiah and according to prophecy the Messiah would have to die a cruel death for our sins. Peter spoke from his flesh in wanting Jesus to stay. Jesus wasn’t trying to be mean to Peter. He wanted Peter to understand that as the Messiah these things were to happen. Matthew records that this is the same time Jesus told Peter that he was going to be the rock in which the church was to be built on. Yes, Jesus is our friend, but He is the Messiah and King. One day we will reign forever in Heaven with Him.
However, in order to that, we must go through suffering as well. Jesus says at the end of this chapter that in order to follow Him we must take up our cross and live for Him daily. To follow Jesus is simply to say no to our own self and selfish desires by placing them into the hands of God and His will. We will go through suffering as Christians. The Christian life is not easy. Each person has their own cross to carry. The thing with Peter was He wanted to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah but at that point was not really ready to understand the suffering that came with it.
To believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the King of kings, the Messiah, and our friend, we need to seek to lose our lives for His glory. It is easy to want to save it, that’s our human flesh. We don’t want trouble, we don’t want to suffer, we don’t want problems. Our desire is to have everything perfect, no sickness, no death, no problems at all. However, if we are to follow Christ, no matter what comes our way, we must keep our eyes focused on Him. Our rewards may not be earthly, but they will be eternal! Jesus gave a stark warning at the end of the chapter. Those who do seek after worldly things and are ashamed of Christ will not enter the kingdom of God. If we are ashamed of Him now, He will be ashamed of us when He returns.
Jesus asks the same of us today, “Who do you say I am?” Is He someone we use to fuss at when things are not going our way? Do we use Him as a genie, asking for more and more for our own selfish desires? Or do we sincerely believe that He is indeed the Messiah who died and rose again for us? Do we believe that He is Lord? If we believe He is the Lord, than we need to take up our cross and follow Him. Our actions tell others who Christ is. We may be the only Christ others will see. Who will people say Christ is to us?