|Who do people say that I am?|
Mark 8:27-38 27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
The first thing I did as a Pastor was a wedding. Not a funeral, not lead a worship service but officiate a wedding. This wedding was for a young lady who had been a Sunday School student of mine while she was in high school. I performed the wedding at my home church where I had just been appointed an associate pastor. I was a member of this church for 20 years before I was appointed there. At the reception a group of men, me included, were standing in a circle discussing politics. One of the men let the “S” word fly. He realized I was standing there and apologized profusely for his verbal indiscretion.
I have always found this mildly amusing. Why? Because the week before, when I was still a lay person, he would not have apologized. In fact he might have added to his colorful language. Now that I was Rev. Bruce instead of just Rob, he saw me in a different light. For this reason, many of my clergy friends often do not want strangers to know what they do for a living. People have a certain idea of what a preacher is supposed to be like and if we don’t measure up, well that can just become more fodder for Christian/Preacher bashing.
In the above text Peter confesses Jesus as Messiah, yet Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to tell anyone. Do you find that odd? If Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed one; wouldn’t God want everyone to know that? The answer to these questions is found in verses 31-32 “31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”
Peter (and likely all the disciples) has the right title but the wrong understanding. That is why Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to tell the world who he is—yet. The time will come when they really get it. The time will come when they understand that Messiah is not a human title for power and triumph but a name associated with suffering, rejection, and public execution.
Of course this will make sense to the disciples after the resurrection. The problem is many of us still expect Jesus to be something that he isn’t. How do you understand that title: Messiah?