Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”Mark 8:27-33
You Are the Messiah
From the outskirts of Bethsaida, Jesus and his disciples walked north to Caesarea Philippi, located in the foothills of Mt. Hermon. In this lush, picturesque setting with flowing streams, Jesus had an intimate conversation with his disciples.
“Who do people say that I am?” he asked. “John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets,” they replied. “But who do you say that I am?” he asked each disciple personally. Rising above public opinion, Peter proclaimed, “You are the Messiah” (Christos in Greek; mashiach in Hebrew). Jesus met this long-delayed, groundbreaking insight by commanding the disciples to silence; their spiritual understanding of his mission had not yet ripened.
A Suffering Messiah
No one had any inkling yet of the passion to unfold in Jerusalem. Thus, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about him. In the popular mind, the title “Messiah” evoked ideas and images contrary to the plan of God.
Instead of leading Israel to nationalistic glory and victory over Rome and other oppressors, “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected… killed, and rise after three days.” The “Lamb of God” heralded by John the Forerunner will be “led to slaughter… silent before shearers.”1
Peter recoiled from such a scandalous idea and presumed to correct his master. But Jesus rebuked him before the Twelve: “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” In the next scene in Mark, Jesus will teach a crowd with his disciples the hard truth: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”2
But who do you say that I am?
You are the Christ, the promised Lamb.
1 John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7.
2 Mark 8:34.