The Right Identity
In March on our Holy Land Tour we went to one of the most beautiful places in Israel, Caesarea Philippi. It’s only about twenty miles from Bethsaida where Jesus did the two-stage miracle in giving sight to the blind man, and as you ascend to the foot of Mt. Hermon, you’ll see crystal clear water gushing through the thickets, olive groves, and then a deep gorge with a roaring stream.
Near the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi there’s a rock cliff where some of the stone has fallen. Out of these rocks a thirty-foot-wide fresh water stream bursts forth to give birth to the Jordan River. Jesus loved this gorgeous mountain hideaway and chose this location to have the important discussion that would challenge his disciples to get his identity right.
“Now Jesus and his disciples came to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he was asking his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say, John the Baptist. Others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ Jesus asked, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter replied, ’You are the Messiah!’ Then Jesus strongly warned them not to tell anyone about his identity as the Messiah.” Mark 8:27-30
As readers, Mark told us in his first sentence that Jesus was the Messiah (Mark 1:1), but from their call away from their fishing nets to seeing Jesus give sight to the blind, healing the deaf, and distributing bread and fish to thousands, they slowly began to figure out who they were traveling with. Now it’s decision time for them to confess who they believe Jesus is.
The disciples respond with an echo of the editorial report in Mark 6:14-15, and then Peter, their spokesman for the rest of the book, confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Davidic King from the tribe of Judah. Peter and the rest of the disciples got the part predicted in Psalm 2 that the Messiah would rule the world. They wanted the inside track in Jesus’ Cabinet. They resisted, on the other hand, the suffering servant predictions of Isaiah 53 where Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for our sin.
Peter began by getting it right, but as we will discover, he quickly lost his insight from heaven and listened to the voice from hell.
LORD, thanks for Jesus’ patience in showing his disciples how he fulfilled what the Jewish prophets said about the blind seeing, the lame walking, and the deaf hearing, and then using questions to move them to affirm strongly that Jesus was the Messiah. Please give sight to some of my Jewish friends who struggle to separate the true Jesus, their Messiah, from the culture of Christendom that often has been the Jewish peoples’ enemy.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!