And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8: 27-29).
As we enter in to Holy Week, there is really one question to be answered: Who is Jesus to you? In Mark 8, we see Jesus on the move with His disciples. He is found multiplying bread and fish for the hungry masses, but when the religious leaders asked Him to perform on demand, He rebuked them for their unbelief. He then warned the disciples to be careful to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees. In true disciple in-process fashion, they thought He was talking about the fact they didn’t have any bread to eat.
Then something very peculiar happens. He prays for a blind man and asks Him if he can see. He said he could see men as trees walking. He then prayed for the man again and his eyes were completely opened. Why did Jesus do that? Why didn’t the man get healed the first time? We know Jesus had the power to do it. We aren’t given the answer, but I believe it could have been a living illustration to His followers. Jesus may have been showing them that someone can have partial truth and yet still allow a false concept to keep them blinded to the whole truth.
That’s what the Pharisees had. They had a form of godliness, but denied its power. In other words, they focused on obeying the letter of the law exclusively as if somehow it could save them. The problem was they didn’t recognize who was with them. They didn’t know who Jesus really was. They thought maybe He was a prophet like John the Baptist or Elijah or any other prophet. When Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” I believe that was an Aha moment that the Holy Spirit gave to Peter. It was kind of like the blind man who finally was able to see clearly. The disciples were now understanding maybe for the first time that Jesus really was the Savior of the world.
Jesus then goes on to tell them for the first recorded time of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. He talks about the circumstances surrounding His death and resurrection. He also told them that if they would truly follow Him they must be willing to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him. The question remains for each of us: Who is Jesus? Is He a celestial Santa Claus who we ask like the Pharisees did only to perform for us or is He God’s Messiah, the Savior of the world?