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Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:53
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Our Scripture lesson it taken from Mark 8:22-33. Let us now hear God’s Word to us this day:
Mark 8:22–33 ESV
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” And 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?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
As I have been studying the Gospel According to Mark in preparation for our Thursday evening Bible Study and for our Sunday Worship I have gained a greater appreciation for the literary genius of Mark. Mark 8 and Mark 9 serve as the pinnacle and hinge to Mark’s gospel. Up until this point, the excitement among the crowds is growing concerning Jesus. The crowds have become so big, Jesus and his disciples can find no rest. It is the first century equivalent of Beatles mania. Everyone in Israel is asking themselves, “Who is this miracle working Rabbi?” “Could this be the long awaited Messiah who will free Israel from the oppression of the Romans?” In his gospel, the Apostle John tells us that some were even prepared to make Jesus king by force (John 6:15).
It is in this hotbed of excitement that Jesus asks that famous question to His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
Mark intends each of his readers to ask themselves this question. It is a question you must ask and answer today!
It is not without accident that right before Jesus asks this famous question, Mark includes the story of a blind man who was healed in stages. His healing represents the process we all must go through if we are to experience salvation.
The first step in the process is spiritual blindness.

Are You Blind to Who Jesus Is?

When asked this question, some say, “Jesus is a fake, a myth or even an instrument of Satan.” Those who respond negatively to Jesus are those who are spiritually blind.
Spiritual blindness is the state in which all of us are born into this world. Some of you here today who were born into a Christian family may not recall a time when you were hostile to Christ. This state of affairs has nothing to do with you but is solely because of God’s grace working through your family and the church. Your natural state is the same as every other human being born after the Fall of Adam, Scripture could not be more clear about this. For example we read in Ephesians 2:1-3:
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
In Mark’s gospel we see this spiritual blindness and hostility most clearly in the Pharisees and other religious leaders. This is no accident; often it is those who are most familiar with the things of God, who are the most hostile to the things of God. We often see this in those who were born and raised in the church becoming the greatest enemies of the Gospel.
What an interesting state of affairs this is; being born and raised in a Christian home can be either a blessing or a curse. That is why this question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” is so important. It is a diagnostic question that reveals the state of your heart. Don’t be alarmed if in asking this question you discover yourself as spiritually blind. Someone brought you to church this morning, just as the man in our story had friend who brought him to Jesus. Jesus healed this man. Jesus can heal you as well!
One of the most beloved hymns in the world is Amazing Grace. Even secular people love it. It was even played by Scotty at Spock’s funeral at the end of the second Star Trek movie!
It was written by a former slave trader. A man who was as blind as blind could be, yet Jesus touched him and his formerly blind eyes saw Jesus for who He really is. Reflecting on his conversion, John Newton wrote:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
The second question you need to ask yourself is this:

Are You Unclear to Who Jesus Is?

Now some of you, in answering Jesus’ question don’t find unbelief and hostility towards Jesus, but faith. In fact, this is still the answer given by the majority of people not only in America, but in the whole world. For example, the second largest religion in the world is Islam. What many do not know is that Jesus is a respected prophet in Islam.
Many hold Jesus as a great teacher and moral example. Some like Peter, even say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Yet as events unfold, Peter is rebuked for believing Satanic things about Jesus.
The man in our story represents those who are unclear about Jesus.
Most people pick in chose what they want to believe about Jesus. This is certainly what the Jews did in Jesus day. They would take texts such as Psalm 2 and Daniel 7 and they created an expectation of a Messiah who would free the Jews from Gentile rule and usher in a golden age for Israel. They conveniently ignored or explained away texts such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 that pointed to a suffering Messiah.
This is still what people do today. Perhaps you are one of those people.
Once again, Mark included the story of this blind man to both encourage you and challenge you.
It should encourage all of us that spiritual enlightenment comes in stages. I know for myself personally, I have a clearer perception of who Jesus is today than I did yesterday. The very fact that you have a positive reaction to Jesus, even the smallest one, is evidence that God’s spirit is at work in your heart. Remember as we have already learned today, our natural state is spiritual blindness and death.
Here is the challenge; you have to continue with Jesus if you are going to see clearly. If this man had walked out on Jesus after his partial healing, he would have remained visually impaired. Remember the warning we heard from Jesus earlier in Mark?
Mark 4:24–25 ESV
And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
There is no neutral ground with Jesus, you are either moving towards greater faith and enlightenment or you are moving towards greater unbelief and blindness!
This brings us to the final question I want your to ask yourself:

Do You Clearly See Who Jesus Is?

The end of this man’s story and the end of Peter’s story is clear, unclouded sight. Of course, Peter’s complete healing took a lot longer—he does not totally recognize who Jesus is until the end of Mark’s gospel, after the resurrection.
I find this encouraging. Jesus works with us, and He keeps working with us until we are totally healed!
You may not be where you want to be spiritually this morning. We are all going to have those “Get behind me Satan!” moments were Jesus rebukes us. We will also have those times when we doubt everything the Bible says about Jesus. Finally, there will be other times when we adopt the world’s misrepresentations of Jesus.
When those moments come, the Devil will be right there to accuse us and discourage us. Perhaps you came to church today ashamed and confused about what you believe about Jesus. If you are, I want to assure you that Jesus is right here, ready to lay His hands on you one more time, just as He did for this man and He will keep on laying His hands on you until you can see clearly!
In a moment, we are going to sing the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” Satan wants to shame us so we will look away from Jesus. The Holy Spirit is speaking through me today, by the authority of this text, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Let us pray.
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