Jesus has questions of me. One of the most important is who do I think He is. He isn’t going to tell me the answer. He is going to force anything on me. I have to decide.
So, what do I think? What is my answer?
The disciples didn’t sit there in silence looking at Him. The disciples didn’t go into a great theological response. Peter led the way with a simple answer. Jesus is the Messiah. That sums it up.
Jesus went out with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”
“But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he strictly warned them to tell no one about him. | Mark 8:27-30 (CSB)
If you were to go around asking your friends, “What do people say about me?” they would take it as an evidence of pride. What difference does it really make what people think or say about us? We are not that important! But what people believe and say about Jesus is important, for He is the Son of God and the Messiah.
Our confession concerning Jesus the Messiah is a matter of life or death. The citizens of Caesarea Philippi would say, “Caesar is Master!” That confession might identify them as loyal Roman citizens, but it could never save them from their missing God’s goals (aka sins) and from eternal hell. The only confession that saves us is “Jesus is Master!” when that confession comes from a heart that truly believes in Him.
It is remarkable the number of different opinions the people held about Jesus, though the same situation probably exists today. That some thought He was John the Baptist is especially perplexing, since John and Jesus had been seen publicly together. They were quite different in personality and ministry, so it seems strange that the people would confuse them.
John the Baptist came “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, in a ministry of judgment, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service. John performed no miracles, but Jesus was a miracle-worker. John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah. How could the people confuse the two?
Some said that Jesus was one of the prophets, perhaps Jeremiah. Jeremiah was “the weeping prophet,” and Jesus was a Man of sorrows; so there is a definite parallel. Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus. Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people, both condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple, and both were persecuted by those in authority.
In His words and His works, Jesus gave every evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message. Instead of diligently seeking for the truth, the people listened to popular opinion and followed it, just as many people do today. They had opinions instead of convictions, and this is what led them astray.
Peter’s confession was bold and uncompromising, just as ours should be: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” The word Christ means “the Anointed One, the promised Messiah.” Prophets, priests, and kings were all anointed when installed in their offices, and our Master holds all three offices.
Why did Jesus warn them to keep quiet about Him? For one thing, the disciples themselves still had much to learn about Him and what it truly meant to follow Him. The religious leaders of the nation had already made up their minds about Him, and to proclaim Him as Messiah now would only upset God’s plans. The common people wanted to see His miracles, but they had little desire to submit to His message. To announce Him as Messiah might well result in a political uprising that would only do harm.
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Mk 8:1–38). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 138–139). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.