November 23, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
What Do You Think?
“But whom say ye that I am?”
They were surrounded by all the reminders of heathen religion. It was away in Caesarea Philippi. Here was the home of Pan worship, Caesar’s temple, the center of ancient Baal worship, and Gentile darkness. To His disciples the Lord turns and asks for a sampling of public opinion about His person. He is not taking a poll or looking for an ego boost. He is probing their hearts. The answers range across the gamut of public opinion: John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the old prophets.
The fruit of His teaching and miracles, grace and kindness, compassion and goodness, was total blindness on the part of the nation. Their blindness matched the blindness which characterized the pagan religions of Caesarea Philippi. But then came, “But whom say ye that I am?” To this question, Peter rose to the challenge. His confession of Christ is clear and unambiguous. He does not hesitate or waver: “The Christ of God.”
On the heels of this confession, the Lord Jesus begins to reveal all that is before Him. Wisely and skillfully, He will do it gradually, as they are able to take it in. He is preparing them. Each of His disclosures will give a little more detail, tell of a little greater indignity and shame, and reveal greater depths to which He would go. For now, it is enough to tell them that He is going to be rejected, killed, and then rise again.
He must suffer “many things.” Think of the “many things” He suffered. He first tells of His rejection. To be unwanted is difficult for anyone. To come with a perfect love and longing to bless others and, in turn, to be totally and unreservedly rejected by them is a source of suffering. To rejection is added that it was by the elders, scribes, and chief priests, the very men raised up to seek the welfare of the nation and to be its judges. Rejected … but rejected by His own! Then to be killed. Not only the suffering of death, but to be esteemed worthy of death, unfit for life. What sorrow for the tender heart of Christ! How wonderful the confession of Peter in light of the darkness of men.
1. “Rejected” carries with it the thought that men have examined the evidence and come to a decision. How would that intensify the suffering of Christ in contrast to a superficial, spur of the moment decision to reject Him?
2. Peter’s confession by Mark is unique for its brevity. In turn the Lord does not confer blessing upon Him as He does in Matthew. If Mark was influenced by Peter in his gospel, and if Mark is the Gospel of “Peter’s mistakes,” does that help to understand why Mark does not relate the Lord’s blessing on Peter?
3. The Lord gives this revelation to disciples who had been marked by failure earlier in the chapter (vv 1-9; and again in vv 14-21). What hope does that give us for appreciating fresh understanding about His person and work?