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

A Gift from the Father

 

1 Kings 8:1-43

Psalm 84

Ephesians 6:10-20

John 6:56-69

 

Many of Jesus’ followers could not understand the idea of eating his flesh. Even if we take it as a metaphor, the image was too appalling.

Chapter 6 is loaded. Bread is the theme. In all of this, verse 65b is a key. This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the FatherMSG

Mercy is the gift. It comes from God, not Jesus. Jesus is what God would be if he could be human. God is God, One and Only. Jesus is a flesh-and-blood human who obeyed God every day without fail. The Messiah—God’s representative on earth—existed before Creation. Think of the Messiah as that part of God which serves as the blueprint for humans.

Yet, that is too limiting. The Messiah is the blueprint for the countless stars, planets, rocks, trees, grass, and animals of the universe. God created all of it in the image of the Messiah. When the time was right, the Messiah was born to a human body.

But his essence was God. It is easiest for us to call Jesus the Son of God because that is the closest human connection in our experiences.

When John sat down in his later years, possibly as the last surviving Apostle, to write his version of the Life of Christ, he returned to Genesis. For John, it is crucial that we understand Jesus has always existed. Even before the creation, Jesus existed.

But notice, In beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the WordUnited Bible Society interlinear translation The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the WordMSG At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginningPhillips

 

For John, God speaks, and all we see comes into existence. The Word is all God needs to create a universe. God speaks to a teenage girl, and she carries a child. He speaks, and the child is named Yeshua—Jesus. When Yeshua speaks, he speaks the Word of God because he is the Word of God.

 

Chapter 1, verse 4: In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankindPhillips This short line is so often overlooked, and so powerful. It is John’s thesis statement. Jesus is the Light, and he is the Life. He uses both terms more than the other gospels, especially Life.

Jesus is Life. Bread is life. To have life we must eat Jesus.

We know that the body of Jesus is gone. John does not record the ascension, so we will look at Luke 24:51. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heavenESV We cannot eat his body in the physical sense, but that is not what he meant anyway. As William Barclay put it: When he told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he was telling us to feed our hearts and souls and minds on his humanity, and to revitalize our lives with his life until we are filled with the life of God.

For John, it seems we eat and drink the Holy Eucharist when we sit with other people and share a part of our selves with them. Jesus did that at the beginning of chapter 6.

By the time John wrote, the Eucharist was being celebrated in many ways by Jews, Greeks, and a UN of others. For John, it must be about Life. How we eat and drink is not the important point. Eat the bread that is the Word of God. Drink the wine that is the Life of the Word of God.

Bless and be blessed.

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence