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Shortly after Jesus heals a blind man, he walks toward the villages of Caesarea Philippi with his disciples.
Along the way he questions them about who people think he is.
They tell him John the Baptist. Or Elijah. Or one of the prophets.
He asks them, “Who do you think I am?” Peter confesses: “You are the Christ.”
An Objection to This Confession
Some scholars see this episode as a post-Easter confession of the church read back onto Peter’s lips.
Yet this theory can’t plausibly account for the rebuke in verse 33, since that is not a detail the church is likely to invent.
And so it’s best to conclude that Peter’s confession was historical and that Jesus accepted it, although on his own terms, as you’ll see in a minute.
The Suffering, Crucified Liberator?
Peter replied to Jesus’ question on behalf of the twelve. And he clearly and unequivocally affirmed that he–along with the twelve–believed Jesus to be the Messiah.
However, the disciples expected the Messiah to come as a conquering general, a political liberator.
Not a sacrificial lamb.
Jesus knew this. That’s why his follow up statement to Peter’s confession was a prediction of his own suffering and death.
Yet Peter rejected such a notion. He could handle Jesus being Messiah. But he could not handle Jesus being crucified. Regardless, Jesus’ messianic mission cannot be understood apart from the cross.
The Messiah and the Cross
First century Palestinian Jews understood that the Messiah would be one like Moses. That’s why parallels between Moses and Jesus were abundant.
But, like Luther said, “Jesus was no Moses.” In the end, Moses is but a household servant. Christ, the maker and master of all things.
For an ex-Pharisee and former church persecutor named Paul, this message penetrated every inch of his preaching: Nothing was worthy compared to the glory of the crucified Christ.
All paled in comparison.
And it was Paul’s all-consuming passion for others to know the fullness of God in the person of Jesus. That’s my passion, too.
So I have to ask, “Who do you say Jesus is?” The answer to this question will determine your eternal destiny.
**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark right now.