Jesus, the Son of God
Nathan works for the Post Office and his job is to process mail that has been posted with incomplete or illegible addresses. One day, Nathan comes across a letter addressed in shaky handwriting to Hashem with no actual address on the envelope. So Nathan opens the envelope and reads the letter inside:
Dear Hashem Shalom. I'm a widow of 79 and all I have to live on is a small pension. Unfortunately, someone stole my purse yesterday with $110 inside and this was all the money I had left until my next pension payment. As you know, Yom Kippur is approaching, and I have some friends coming over for a break the fast dinner. Without money, I can't buy any food or drink. I don't even have any family to help me out. You, dear God, are my only hope. Please can you help me? Yours Sincerely, Sadie
Nathan is very touched and shows the letter to all his work colleagues. When they read it, each one generously gives Nathan a few dollars to donate to Sadie. Very soon, his collection reaches $100 and the Post Office workers feel very proud (and so they should) to have been able to help an old lady in distress. Nathan puts the money carefully in an empty envelope together with a short anonymous note:
Dear Sadie Here is some money to make up for the stolen money. Enjoy!
He then addresses it to Sadie and posts it.
Soon after Yom Kippur ended, Nathan comes across another letter addressed to Hashem. So he opens it. It reads:
Dear Hashem Shalom. How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love, I was able to put together a lovely meal for my friends. I told them of your wonderful gift and we had a super day thanks to you. By the way, there was $10 missing from the envelope – I only received $100. I think it might have been those shnorrers at the Post Office. Sincerely Sadie
If you’re new to Fellowship, we have been on a chronological journey through the Bible. We have transitioned recently from the OT to the NT and are in a six week mini-series on the person and work of Christ.
Last week in Matthew 14, we looked at Christ feeding the 5,000 and his interaction with the disciples on the sea of Galilee and learned six valuable truths about Jesus:
Jesus chose compassion over convenience
Jesus made the insufficiencies of the disciples sufficient
Jesus included His disciples in His plan
Jesus was intentional to walk with the Father
Jesus met His own in the midst of the storm
and ultimately that:
Jesus is Who He said He is
Following these accounts and many more miracles that Christ performed, we find an important discussion between Christ and His disciples.
Look with me please in Mark 8 - Page 595
Now, as we have talked about before, the four Gospels are written by four different men, all from different backgrounds, perspectives, and with different purposes.
Mark’s Gospel emphasizes actions and deeds. In this account, you will find Jesus on the go—healing, casting out demons, performing miracles, hurrying from place to place, and teaching. In Mark everything happens “immediately.” As soon as one episode ends, another begins.
It is a narrative about Jesus and portrays Him as the Son of God with the purpose of summoning people to repent and respond in faith to the good news of Jesus.
As you make your way through Mark you come to chapter 8 and in the first 26 verses you find Jesus feeding 4,000, correcting the Pharisees and teaching His disciples, and then Him giving sight to a blind man. And here we pick up in v. 27.
27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
1. The Importance of Personal Opinion (vv. 27-30)
In the midst of this jam-packed account of the life of Christ, Mark slows down for just a minute to emphasize the heart of his writing.
Following the go-go-go tempo, verses 27-30 are the turning point of Mark’s account. Following chapter 8, the rest of the book leads to Jerusalem and the impending fate of Jesus.
But here we have a crucial question presented by Christ.
27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
In essence, what is the popular opinion of who I am?
A. Opinion based on cultural norms (vv. 27-28)
The disciples give the answers that the culture of their day would give - that Jesus was one of the great prophets who came back to life:
John the Baptist - This is what Herod thought:
14 Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”
Elijah - Jews knew that in 2 Kings 2:11 that Elijah never did die, but was taken to heaven alive
One of the prophets - Some Jewish people of the Second Temple period (516 bc–ad 70) believed that prophets would return at the end of the age—particularly figures like Elijah who never died but was taken to heaven.
Many also thought that he was just a prophet in general - a messenger sent from God
Then Jesus transitions from what culture said to what they believed personally
B. Opinion based on Truth (vv. 29-30)
So, Jesus turns the corner from cultural norms and asks...
29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
Implying a different answer, Jesus turns to his disciples.
It was like playing the game hangman with kindergarteners
Joey picked a B and earned an arm
Sally “B” it’s been taken
Frank “B” - NO, it’s been taken!
Jesus, in expectation of a different answer than “just one of the prophets”, hears from Peter, the often outspoken in the group:
You are the Christ! the Messiah; the Anointed One of the OT. You are the fulfillment of what we have been waiting for!
Remember the response of the disciples during the storm on the sea of Galilee when Christ gets into the boat and the waves and wind cease?
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
In expectation of an at-a-boy, i’m sure, Peter and the disciples then are:
30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
The Jews as a whole, and even Peter and the disciples didn’t fully understand Christ and His mission yet. They were expecting the Messiah to come and overthrow Roman oppression, but Christ actually came to overthrow the oppression of their sin!
So, we see here the importance of personal opinion.
This question is the most important question you’ll ever answer.
You can base your answer on cultural norms or on biblical truth.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Was he a good man who healed people?
A prophet who taught about God?
Or was He who He said He Is - the very Son of God?
Now, we would expect this type of climax to continue with His plans of conquering those in opposition. And He does, but not from a common Judaistic perspective.
2. The Impedance of Perspective (vv. 31-33)
A. Christ’s teaching (v. 31)
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
This is the first of three times in Mark that Jesus predicts the ensuing plan.
He highlights that he MUST suffer many things… His suffering and death were essential to God’s purposes for reconciliation between God and man.
B. Peter’s problem (v. 32)
32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
Peter couldn’t accept a suffering Messiah.
He was good intentioned, but intentions are flawed.
C. God’s plan (v. 33)
33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
It is here we find the battle of perspectives.
Christ rebukes Peter (he wasn’t saying that he was Satan)
You are not mindful (positioning your thinking) on the things of God (eternal) but on the things of men (temporal).
Paul wrote something similar to Colossian believers in
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Here in Mark we have a battle of what Peter thinks should be right, and what God has planned to be right.
Which emphasizes the reality that we can’t fully understand the ways of God.
There are moments within His plan, and truths within His teachings that we may not fully grasp yet or completely appreciate, but we must continue to trust Him.
1. The Importance of Personal Opinion (vv. 27-30)
2. The Impedance (Battle) of Perspectives (vv. 31-33)
3. The Impact of our Pursuit (vv. 34-38)
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
After laying out the clear differences of cultural opinion and truth
And between temporal and eternal perspectives,
Jesus brings it all together and emphasizes that the kind of Messiah Jesus was had implications for anyone who wanted to be his follower.
And that an incorrect understanding of Jesus’s messiahship leads to an incorrect understanding of discipleship.
A. Following Jesus impacts where you find comfort and security (v. 34)
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
If you have a desire to Come after (pursue) me…
If the conclusion they were coming to from Jesus’ previous question of “Who Do you say that I am” (v. 29) is that He is indeed the Christ, the Son of God
If they then desired to pursue Him deeper because of this grace He had revealed to them, then three things ensued:
Deny self refers to a denial of self-centered interests. A laying aside of personal comforts and self-determination and replacing it with obedience to and dependance on the Messiah.
Take up a cross - they knew what this referred to the fact that crucifixion victims were made to carry the cross or at least the crossbeam to the site of their execution.
Based on Peter’s earlier response to Jesus (Mark 8:32) it seems that the disciples expected they would receive political power and favor in the messianic kingdom that they believed Jesus would inaugurate
Follow Jesus - Remember the context of vv. 31-33 - Those who would follow after Jesus must too be prepared to face death in their allegiance to him.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
B. Following Jesus impacts what you trust (vv. 35-37)
35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Following v. 34, Jesus emphasizes that if your comfort and security is placed in anything but Him, then you will find that you’ve lost it.
Those who place themselves first, instead of the gospel, will be unsuccessful in their self-preservation goals.
vv. 36-37 make statements with questions.
(You’ve done that too - Kids - “Do you want me to pull this car over?”)
v. 36 - What will it profit? - Nothing!
v. 37 - What can we exchange? - Nothing!
Whoever desires (v. 35 - similar to v. 34) to save his life more than to pursue after Christ, He will lose it.
Whoever trusts more in self than in Christ, who believes they can gain the whole world, or give something in exchange for their soul - will lose!
Pursuing Jesus impacts where you find comfort and security, it impacts what you trust, and:
C. Following Jesus impacts what you value (v. 38)
38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
As Christ is tying together all of this teaching, He emphasizes the valuing of our hearts.
If you are pursuing self more than Christ.
If you find comfort and security in the temporal points of this life more than Christ.
If you trust what you can do more than what Christ did.
If you value the ideals of our culture more than Christ and His Words, then:
You must not truly know Him.
Because those who know Him
find their comfort and security in Him
Now certainly we fail from time to time. We choose fleshly desires. We fearfully withhold our witness. We fail.
This is not talking about sporadic fleshliness, but final decisiveness.
As Jesus claims divine authority in final judgement, those who deny Him now will be denied then.
This passage asks three questions that you must answer for yourself:
1. What are you going to believe? (vv. 27-30)
2. Who are you going to trust? (vv. 31-33)
3. How are you going to live? (vv. 34-38)