Mark: According to
Who Am I
In our last post we left of with Jesus having just healed the blind man and telling him to keep quiet about the healing. This was partially because Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with his disciples. It was His desire to free the logjam of misunderstanding that the disciples had about Jesus and his mission. The disciples were still hoping and expecting Jesus to declare himself King and ascend to the throne of David.
Jesus and his disciples left for Caesarea Philippi which lay twenty-five miles due north of Bethsaida, which was a full-days walk. Philip’s Caesarea lay in the north of the tetrarchy of Philip at the foot of Mount Hermon, bordering on Syria. The City had been refurbished by Philip and named in honor of Caesar Augustus, who rule the Roman Empire for fifty-seven years. Caesarea Philippi was therefore an unlikely place for the first proclamation of Jesus to be the Messiah. Why would this be? Because the population of the area was chiefly non-Jewish. It was also the site of two painful memories to Jews.
At the base of mount Hermon is a cave from which one of the three major tributaries of the Jordan River gushes forth. It is here in the outer regions of paganism and even hostility to Judaism that Jesus brought His disciples.
There was another reason Jesus was bringing them to this location for this was the beginning of His traveling to Jerusalem so that it could be fulfilled which was spoken by John the Baptist as we saw in Mark chapter 1.
27 Now Jesus and his disciples went out of the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked his disciples, saying to them. ‘Who do men say that I am?’”
Jesus opened the discussion of his coming crucifixion by inquiring of his disciples, not what other thought of Him, but who other’s thought He was. This was essential for Jesus to establish if His disciples were ever to understand Jesus’ role and mission. Many believed him to be a teacher sent from God. But for a teacher sent from God to go through what Jesus was to go through would have left his disciples more perplexed than they were at the time of His crucifixion. Therefore, He asked of them the question. “Who do men say that I am?”
If the people and the disciples believed that Jesus was just a teacher or one of the prophets come back to life, then his death would have no meaning, they would fail to see the atoning power that His death would bring upon mankind.
Jesus well knew what the people thought of Him, but he used the question to invite conversation and open the mind of His disciples to his true identity and purpose. The disciples mimicked back to him what they had heard, that he was the return of John the Baptist, that he was Elijah or one of the other prophets. The people failed to see, and the disciples failed to respond with the truth concerning Jesus because their minds were so clouded by the traditions of man and the watered-down teachings of the Pharisees and other religious teachers.
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
The correct reading of this verse should state, “but you, who do you say that I am?” Peter always the most vocal of all the disciples quickly answered. “Simon Peter answered and said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
There it was! It was now wide open, out front, something that the disciples had to deal with, which allowed Jesus to begin to teach them the things necessary in preparing for His death and their ministry in the early Christian church.
One might argue that Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael had believed from the very beginning that Jesus was the Messiah and in the calming of the sea, they had all bowed down and worshipped Him. But this appears to be first time that Peter as spokesperson for the disciples had publicly expressed what the others were also thinking.
So, the question before us after studying the gospel of Mark is what are we going to do with this same question? Who do you think Jesus is? It is clear from the evidence presented before us that Jesus was the Son of God, who through the power of His Heavenly Father performed miracles and taught the people in a way that lifted the burden of sin and traditions from their shoulders. Even the unclean spirits that Jesus cast out acknowledged who Jesus was and that He was sent of God and was indeed the Son of God. So then the answer should be pretty simple, we should by faith also accept that Jesus is the Son of God, come to take away the sins of the world. He came as a light shining in a dark place. He came looking for lost sheep that they might be restored to the fold. He came, to be our Saviour! So, with all the evidence before us, who do you think Jesus is?