The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 8D

Chapter 8:27-33

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  • Last week, we encountered the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida.

    • This healing was one that was quite remarkable!

      • Because we discovered that the physical condition of the man was simply a reflection of the disciples’ spiritual condition.

      • In other words, the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ identity and purpose were quite blurry.

      • They understood Christ to be the Messiah, yet their understanding of His purpose was tied more to a political figure rather than a suffering King.

    • And the reality is, if anyone needed to understand His purpose well, it would need to first be the twelve – for this knowledge would be foundational for the Church.

      • You will see tonight that there was much speculation as to who Jesus was.

      • But despite the oversight, the time had arrived for the twelve to truly know the One in whom they have been walking with for nearly 2 years and why He came.

    • And as the healing of the blindman taught us, the only way in which they would come to know Jesus’ identity would be through Divine illumination.

      • It’s at this point in Mark’s gospel that everything has been building to this moment.

      • And it will be from this point forward that everything flows out.

    • For one to truly understand the identity of Messiah requires one to know His purpose.

      • And we will see, as I mentioned last week, that a Messiah not connected to scripture is no Messiah at all.

      • That God has made His Messiah both verbally and visibly known as well as His purpose for coming.

    • And what will be made plainly clear is that where the people’s understanding of Messiah is misunderstood, Jesus will clarify His purpose and Mission regarding His first coming.

      • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text, it would simply be: “Full Disclosure: From Suffering to Glory”.

      • With that being said, I invite you to open your bibles and meet me in Mark 8:27-33.

Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 
Mark 8:28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 
Mark 8:29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 
Mark 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 
Mark 8:32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 
Mark 8:33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
  • Let’s Pray.

  • If you have ever watched commercials advertising a new prescription drug, they have become quite comical, to say the least.

    • In one sense, this new drug can cure a particular disease or issue – which is great.

      • However, the part that many fail to pay close attention to are the side effects.

      • And oftentimes the side effects of the medical drug cause more damage to the body than the actual disease itself.

      • And what makes these commercials so comical is the announcer on the commercial sounding like a horse race announcer (speeding through the exhaustive list of side effects).

    • The commercials claim to give you the “full disclosure” without making it plain to distract you from the side effects and focus you more on the benefits.

      • However, when it comes down to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not only does He provide you and I with a full disclosure.

      • But He provides the terms and conditions of what He is offering, very plainly, according to the Father’s will.

    • Tonight, we will see that the Father is going to reveal plainly through the Son, by the Person of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, Jesus’ Identity and Purpose.

      • The question becomes: “Will this reality be a difficult pill for these men to swallow or not?”

    • The outline for our time together tonight will be the following:

      • 1. A Divine Inquiry (v.27-30)

      • 2. A Divine Confession (v.27-30)

      • 3. A Plain Teaching (v.31-33)

      • 4. A Divine Rebuke (v.31-33)

    • So with that being said, pick me up at verses 27-30.

Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 
Mark 8:28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 
Mark 8:29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 
Mark 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
  • It’s after Jesus and His disciples leave the district of Bethsaida, after healing the blind man, that they make their way to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.

    • Caesarea Philippi, named by Herod Philip after himself and Tiberius Caesar, was known prior to its new name as Paneas.

      • Caesarea Philippi is located about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee near the base of Mt. Hermon (Map).

    • Mt. Hermon is the highest mountain peak in the Promised Land, rising over 9,000 feet above sea level.

      • And its southern slope is located about 1,150 feet above the sea level as well.

    • The area is very lush and full of vegetation and life.

      • As a matter of fact, Jewish Historian Josephus mentions that this area is considered the chief source of water for the Jordan River.

    • It was here in Caesarea Philippi that the Canaanite people had built a sanctuary to Baal and where the Greeks and Romans built sanctuaries for sacrifices.

      • And these sacrifices were done near a place called the “Grotto of Pan”.

    • Pan was a mythical god among the Pagans and was known as the “god of nature”. He was said to be half-man and half goat.

      • This cave was colloquially known as the entrance to the underworld or the gates of hell.

      • And this would be the place in which the Lord Jesus is journeying with His disciples and where Peter’s great confession will be made.

    • While on this journey towards Caesarea Philippi, Jesus administers a test of sorts to the twelve.

      • And the test began with a question which was: “Who do people say that I am?”

      • The word “people” in Greek is the word anthropos which means people, human being, or man.

      • In other words, what does human wisdom say regarding my identity?

    • It’s in verse 28 that the disciples begin to layout for Jesus what the general conclusions of the people are regarding His identity.

      • Check out quickly Mark 8:28:

        • They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.”

    • Now before we move too quickly, one could ask the question: “Why does Jesus feel the need to lead with this line of questioning, first?”

      • Why start with what people think or are saying?

    • To put it plainly, in order to get to the heart of who He is, one must understand who He is not.

      • Check out the list again:

        • Some are saying John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others say, one of the Prophets.

    • The next question that might come to mind here is: “Why would the people assume these figures?”

      • With hindsight and having the whole canon of scripture today, we can say with confidence that there was much Messianic confusion amongst the people.

    • In one case, we hear that John the Baptist’s name is floating around because Herod Antipas has heard of Jesus’ ministry and mighty works.

      • You might recall this from Mark 6:14-16. Check out the text.

Mark 6:14  And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 
Mark 6:15  But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 
Mark 6:16   But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”
    • Now, what about Elijah? How did His name get floated around as a possible option regarding Jesus’ identity?

      • Perhaps it was in connection to Malachi 4 as Elijah being the forerunner before the great and terrible day of the Lord.

    • In either case, for the people to say Jesus was like any other of these men was a complete denial of His uniqueness and dismissal of His Divine Identity and Purpose.

      • Friends, this is the equivalent to non-believers saying Jesus is a great teacher, or amazing healer, yet not identify Him as who He really is – God.

      • So it is after Jesus has asked the disciples what human intellect says, thinks, or believes about Him, that He then turns the question on them.

      • Herein lies the Divine Inquiry: “But who do you say that I am?”

    • What I love about Jesus’ question here is that it is pointed and two fold in nature.

      • In one way, He begins by His disciples expressing the Messianic misconceptions based upon human wisdom regarding His Person.

      • While at the same time He is strategic because the apostles will need to know who He is without the “outsider” influence.

    • As a matter of fact, Jesus’ question here in Greek is quite revealing based upon the Greek syntax.

      • The original language reads: “But you, who do you say that I am?”

    • In other words: I don’t want to know what human reasoning says. I don’t want to know what “people’s truth” is, or what is “relative to their reality”. I want to know what my Apostles who have been following the Light, say!

      • Well, it’s in verse 29b that Peter, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, says out loud, representing the entire twelve, “You are the Christ.”

      • You are the Christos, the Anointed One, You are the Messiah.

    • To truly grasp the weightiness of Peter’s confession, we need to look quickly to Matthew’s account. (Matthew 16:16)

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • Here is what Mark has been building up to this point. This was in fact his very thesis statement in Mark 1:1 – The beginning starts with Jesus Christ.

    • Jesus’ Identity has now, for the first time to the twelve, been made plainly known.

    • It is as if the blurry vision they had before has now come into view regarding Jesus’ Person.

    • The line in the sand has been drawn and what a relief it is because at this point this confession now leads to a commendation.

      • To see this more accurately, let’s go back to Matthew’s account for Jesus’ response to Peter’s Confession. (Matthew 16:17)

Matthew 16:17  And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
  • Jesus commends Peter, because Peter coming to this conclusion was not based upon “flesh and blood” – in other words, this was not human revelation.

    • It did not come about through reason or process of elimination.

    • But only the Father in Heaven has revealed this truth.

    • Our very faith rests upon this revealed truth that Jesus is the Son of God!

      • And the only way by which men can come to this understanding of who Christ is, is if God makes known to humanity this truth, personally.

      • As scripture mentions in Isaiah: “Eyes must be opened, ears must be unplugged, and hearts must be softened to the truth.”

    • It is this Divine revelation of Jesus being the Son of God that Jesus tells Peter, in Matthew’s Gospel, that upon that truth, the Church will be built upon. (Christ is the Son of God)

      • Friends, this is the reason why the gates of Hell will not stand against the church, because its very foundation is built upon God Himself.

      • And I don’t find it surprising that the very statement that Peter confesses, by the Spirit, is made in the same vicinity where, colloquially, the entrance of Hell was located.

    • Understand that the moment that the church moves away from this proclamation of Jesus Christ, His death burial, and resurrection:

      • The moment that the church compromises on Christ and Him crucified, for the sake of relativism or philosophical truth, is the moment that the church has moved away from the Gospel.

    • Well it is after Peter makes this Divine Confession, regarding Jesus’ Identity, that Jesus gives a firm warning – to not tell anyone.

      • Well, this begs a significant question: “Wouldn’t the point be to let people know that Jesus is indeed the Christ?”

      • Wouldn’t this clear up the Messianic confusion?!

        • Not necessarily. Remember, we have been seeing the rejection of Jesus grow more and more.

        • And even with the evidence of His Person made known, many people still refuse to repent and believe.

    • The people’s understanding of Jesus is misinformed at best and not aligned with His mission and Purpose.

      • This only further confirms that the only way in which Christ can be made known to man is if the Spirit opens up eyes and illuminates hearts to understand.

      • If the people at the feeding of the 5,000, according to John’s gospel, had gotten ahold of Jesus, based upon their understanding of Messiah, they would have taken Him over to make Him a King fitting their own Messianic agenda.

    • However, the way by which men would be made right before God in preparation to receive the Kingdom would require Messiah to suffer.

      • This missional reality in connection to His Divine identity would become the next barrier in which Jesus would have to address with the Disciples.

      • And this reality would be a tough pill to swallow. Check out verses 31-33.

Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 
Mark 8:32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 
Mark 8:33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
  • After the disciples are told the Identity of Jesus, Jesus now begins to teach, focusing their attention upon His mission as to why He came.

    • To gain a true understanding of Messiah’s identity, one would need to understand His purpose, missionally.

      • And it’s in verses 31 and 32 that Jesus expresses several points pertaining to the purpose of Messiah.

      • And it will be these points Jesus makes that will catch Peter and the other disciples off guard.

    • It’s here that Jesus begins to teach the disciples privately and explicitly that the “Son of Man” would have to:

      • 1. Suffer many things

      • 2. Be rejected by the elders, chief priest, and scribes

      • 3. Be killed

      • 4. And after three days, He would rise again.

    • Now this new information regarding Messiah having to suffer and even die was completely unexpected and not anticipated neither by the people, but most especially, the disciples.

      • In one way, one could say: A suffering and dying Messiah was somehow missing from this victorious and triumphant Messiah as described in Daniel.

      • Check out the description of Messiah in Daniel 7:13-14, where Messiah is described here as “Son of Man”.

Daniel 7:13  “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
Daniel 7:14   “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.
    • Daniel describes here that “One like the Son of Man” – who we know as Jesus Christ – came and approached the Ancient of Days, which refers to God the Father.

    • So when we look at verse 13 and 14 knowing what Persons of the Trinity are at play here, we see that the Father gives the Son, dominion, glory, and a Kingdom.

      • As Daniel describes in verse 14, this Kingdom will have no end and cannot be destroyed.

    • Well, this can only mean that if this Kingdom that is given to the Son of Man cannot be destroyed then it presumes that the Messiah cannot end as well.

      • So in a way, we can understand why the disciples have a bit of a Messianic Dilemma.

      • Because, in their understanding, how can there be a Kingdom that will reign in victory over its enemies if its King is dead?

    • In other words, the disciples weren’t able to see how both death and victory coincide together.

      • This idea of Messiah having to suffer and die was foreign to the disciples, so much so that Peter pulls Jesus aside and has the audacity to rebuke Him.

      • After Peter has received the keys to the Kingdom and has been deemed, in a way, the chief Apostle, he has this cocky swag about himself and now finds the need to address Jesus’ missional purpose.

    • Isn’t it astounding that in one breath, Peter is illumined by the Spirit to clearly see the Identity of Christ.

      • Yet, in the very next breath, finds himself rebuking the Lord Jesus.

    • Understand that this type of rebuke that Peter gives is not a light rebuke.

      • The word “rebuke” here is the Greek word epitimao (epiti-mao) which means to warn or express strong disapproval of.

      • In other words, “Jesus, this is not about to happen if I have anything to do with it, I forbid it – far be it from me!”

    • Now to some this response would seem like an honorable response in an effort to defend Jesus, the one in whom you love.

      • However, to attempt to deny Jesus of His High call and purpose, according to His Father’s will, is to tell the Living God, your plans are off – fall in line.

      • Friends, this is a direct attack against God, Himself!

    • And I believe this speaks to a very clear point as we minister the gospel to people: No matter how accommodating we try to be as a church, we must not bend or alter our mission!

      • For some, there is the intent on wanting to reach the world in a way that makes the message we preach more favorable and palatable for others because it’s convenient for them.

      • However, the reality is the Gospel is offensive and the Gospel is a weighty message. It’s a costly message!

    • The Gospel confronts us with our sins. It confronts us with our depravity. It confronts us with our brokenness, yet it meets us with a gracious Savior.

      • Let the message of the Gospel serve its purpose no matter how uncomfortable it may sound or seem. Truth always Triumphs!

    • So in Peter’s failure to have a proper perspective (heavenly perspective on the matter), Jesus ushers Peter a firm rebuke. Check out verse 33b.

      • “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”

    • What was Jesus’ point in calling Peter, Satan here?

      • In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has bestowed the keys to the Kingdom, changed his name, and yet He calls Peter, Satan. What’s up with that?

    • Well, what we have just witnessed is Jesus putting Peter in His place.

      • Where Peter gets beside Himself, Jesus reminds Him as only Jesus can.

      • And in that effort, Jesus tells Peter to “Get behind Him”: In other words, “Know your place, Peter!”

    • It’s at that point where Jesus calls Peter, Satan.

      • Now some argue the case: “Don’t you think calling Peter, Satan, is a bit of a stretch?”

        • I would argue, not really.

    • Because the moment that you set yourself up against the plans and purpose of God, is the moment that you are acting on behalf of the enemy himself.

      • It is clear that Peter is not operating in humility under the direction and instruction of Christ because verse 33b tells us this:

      • “For you are not setting your “mind” on God’s interest but man’s.”

    • The word “mind” here is phroneo which means to set one’s mind upon or to understand something.

      • In other words, Peter was to set his mind upon God’s direction and instruction and not his own.

      • One question comes to mind here: “What was Peter’s mind set on that he felt necessary to tell Jesus that He would permit His Divine plans to be accomplished?”

    • Peter’s mind is set upon his own interest. We witnessed this reality earlier on in Mark 1:35-39, where Peter got perturbed with Jesus going off by Himself to pray.

      • Where Jesus saw the need to dwell with the Father before ministry work commenced, Peter saw an opportunity to increase Jesus’ ministry, thereby increasing Peter’s popularity.

      • This reveals further more that Peter and the disciple’s understanding of the purpose of Christ needing to die, was not understood.

    • The disciples’ minds are set upon what their understanding of Messiah’s coming means, and that is victory, ruling, authority, dominion, and Power.

      • And not upon what Christ has plainly made known to them regarding His Purpose.

      • Watch what Paul says in regard to the believers’ spiritual priorities in Colossians 3:2:

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
    • Paul also mentions this in Romans 8:5-8:

Romans 8:5  For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 
Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 
Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 
Romans 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • A mind that is not in alignment with the Lord and His Spirit, is a mind that is at war with God.

    • This is why Peter is called Satan – Peter’s agenda needs to be realigned with that of the plan and purpose of Christ.

    • This process requires humility and if we were to be honest, as followers of Jesus, we need to be reminded of this truth.

    • I’m reminded of what the Lord God tells Job in Job 38:4-7 after Job has been stricken with such great loss and trying to figure out why he is suffering the way he was.

      • Check out God’s response to Job:

Job 38:4  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Job 38:5  Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
Job 38:6 “On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
Job 38:7  When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
  • Here’s the point, like Job was not found in contributing to the laying of the foundation of the earth, neither was Peter.

    • In other words, God did not and does not need your counsel on His matters.

    • Our attempts to somehow think we have anything to contribute or add to the Gospel is at best fanatical and narcissistic.

      • This is, in essence, the problem that we face not only in American churches, but in Churches around the world.

      • We feel that we have the authority or ability to contribute to God’s cosmological conversation and missiological redemptive plan.

    • We must learn that our best efforts in understanding God’s plan is found in knowing Him and His word!

      • Rather than Peter humbly submitting to Jesus’ teaching and seeking to understand what was being provided through His suffering, Peter jumped the gun to protect his interest and his King.

      • And although the attempt, to some, seem valid, it was an unwelcome and unsolicited counterintuitive approach to God’s redemptive plan.

    • Friends, the only way in which a Kingdom would come and a people would be made ready to receive the Kingdom is if the King paid a price with His life.

      • This is the message of the Gospel. And this message is not written on the backs of men or sustained by the government and kingdoms of this world.

      • It is held together by the very word of God, Himself. (Colossians 1:17)

    • The reality is, the same approach that Satan took to prematurely kill Jesus was the same approach Peter took in trying to keep Jesus from accomplishing the Father’s will.

      • You see, when we recognize that we are created beings and that God is the Creator, it puts everything into proper perspective.

      • As Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:

Isaiah 55:8  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
  • What Peter and the disciples were failing to understand was although this physical pain was inevitable for Jesus, His victory over death was guaranteed.

    • And as we will see later in Mark’s account, Jesus will make known why His death is necessary.

    • For a sneak peek, turn with me to Mark 10:45:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
  • However, this realization of death and suffering was not able to yet penetrate the disciples’ understanding because they were still focused on “visions of a glorious earthly Messiah”

    • Christ came for the very purpose to die, and this would be a reality that would need to settle into the hearts of the disciples.

    • For to truly receive Christ was to accept the terms and conditions of His coming and purpose.

    • To attain the gift of salvation and the Kingdom that He offers requires one to embrace the suffering He would endure for the safety and security found only in Him.

    • A dying Messiah, the religious leaders could not and would not promote or see. And to this day, they fail to acknowledge Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

      • Yet if they truly read Isaiah 53:11, particularly, they would see the following:

Isaiah 53:11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
  • To set our minds upon the truth revealed in scripture regarding Christ, is to set our minds upon heavenly things.

    • To set our minds upon this truth is to set our minds upon the Gospel.

    • To set our minds upon this truth, is to set our minds upon the means of God’s perfect plan to lead us into right fellowship with God.

    • For if there was no suffering, there could be no salvation.

      • And if there were no salvation, there could be no fellowship.

      • And if there were no fellowship, the bad news would be that we would all be justly and rightly placed in Hell.

    • But thank God that because of God’s perfect and Holy plan, He made a way that we might be saved from the wrath of God and eternal separation from the Father.

      • It is with this great cost, that we will find next week, that true discipleship requires a cost.

      • And the reality is, not all are willing to count it.

    • Let’s Pray.