Who Do You Say I Am?

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Proverbs 1:20-33

Psalm 19

James 3:1-12

Mark 8:27-38


Mark, as usual, gives us a short version of the answer to the above question. You are the Messiah; what more is there? Neither Mark nor Luke includes Matthew’s account of Peter being given the keys to the Kingdom. John has Jesus naming Simon as Peter in his first chapter (v. 42) but does not include the exchange in any form.

However, the Synoptics all include Jesus’ announcement of his coming death. What is the connection between declaring Jesus to be the Messiah and the predictions?

Mark tells us how Jesus reacted to Simon’s bold claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about himNIV Matthew, in v. 16:20, wrote; Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the MessiahNIV Luke wrote in 9:21; Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyoneNIV

It does seem odd that Jesus was not willing to accept what was his birthright. There are many guesses about why he wanted to keep the Messiahship a secret. Once you have read every commentary ever written, you will still not know for sure.

The early Church Fathers seem to have believed Jesus wanted them to wait until his resurrection to pronounce him the Messiah—or Christ from the Greek Christos. It might be that he was not yet the Messiah. A bit like Princess Elizabeth in 1950—a queen in waiting.

It could also be that, while the Twelve recognized him as Messiah, they did not yet understand what that meant. Therefore, he began to teach them, as all three Gospels tell us. It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up aliveMSG I like Peterson’s stress on that last word. Jesus did not just come out of the grave; he came out alive.

Both Mark and Matthew add Peter’s reaction to the hard teaching, a kind of foreshadowing of his denial during the Passion. Matthew puts these words in Peter’s mouth: Never Lord! This shall never happen to you! NIV

Both Gospels have Jesus saying nearly the same thing.  “Out of my way, Satan!” he said. “Peter, you are not looking at things from God’s point of view, but from man’s!” Phillips The literal translation of v. 33 is: And having turned around and having seen the disciples of him he rebuked Peter and says go away behind me, Satan, because you are not thinking the things of God but the things of manUnited Bible Society Interlinear Translation

I think it is important to note that Jesus looked at the Twelve before he spoke to Peter. Remember that Peter was always the spokesperson for the others. Jesus knew that, so knew that all of them believed the same.

We find the most important takeaway from this exchange in Matthew. There we have Jesus praising Peter for being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and just six verses later Peter inserts-foot-in-mouth. And we wonder why Jesus wept.

Jesus does not linger. He calls the crowd to join the Twelve. Here we see hundreds of people waiting patiently while the Rabbi gave private instruction to his talmidim, his “students.” In those days, such behavior was common. People could listen in to any rabbi if he permitted it but had to stand aside for the rabbi’s actual students.

Notice that Jesus goes directly into the theme of the cross. If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow mePhillips There is no other way. We cannot fear death. We cannot fear to lose our wealth or our health. Life on this earth is worth little compared to life in the presence of God.

There are people, including pastors, who teach that we must be prepared to shoot anyone who attacks us. I don’t see how anyone can read this passage today and believe that is what Jesus wants us to do. It may be in the Gospel of Colt, but not in the New Testament.

The man who tries to save his life will lose itPhillips


Read my earlier comments on this theme here, and here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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