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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." And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. Mark 8:27-30 ESV Read More
This section gives us a transparent look into the relationship between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus is asking them for the word on the street and the disciples have plenty of answers. Remember they have gone out to towns to preach the kingdom without Jesus. They have had conversations where Jesus wasn’t around and they were able to answer questions and talk about Him.
Many people believed that Elijah would come back someday. He was prophesied to come before the Messiah. If the people really did believe that Jesus was Elijah, that was a pretty big deal. That meant that they thought the end of days and the whole book of Daniel was about to go down. If you saw a man that was working miracles and it was Elijah, you’d better get your house in order. The Gentiles are about to be laid waste and God’s chosen people are about to have God back living in their cities again.
John the Baptist gained fame all over the countryside from his ministry. People came out to hear him in the Jordan river from as far away as Jerusalem. He was famous even in the highest levels of the government (where he was eventually arrested by King Herod). King Herod thought that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead. Whether people knew that John was dead or not, to think that this miracle worker was John was a testimony to how powerful and respected John was. If he’s back from the dead working miracles and teaching, then he’s just that much more powerful!
It’s also important that the disciples say “one of the prophets.” That puts Jesus in a highly revered class of men, but then opens the door to the next question. ”Who do you say I am?” Jesus asks this in contrast to these other three suggestions. He is not Elijah. He is not John the Baptist. He is not one of the prophets. If He is not one of the prophets, He has to be something even more splendid, wise, and more powerful than even the prophets!
When Peter says that Jesus is the Christ, he puts Jesus in the league above all of the prophets. The Christ is the one that every prophet longed for. The Christ is the one that Elijah, the greatest of all of the prophets, served and prepared the people to see. The Christ is the presence of God among His people and the one that takes away every bit of evil forever.
Jesus warns them not to tell anyone because this kind of news is too big to just tell all over the place. This news is bigger than even the disciples fully understand. If Jesus really is the Christ, that means the judgment of all evil is at hand. Rome and all kingdoms are about to fall. Every hidden sin and corruption is about to be exposed and blown away, never to return.
It’s true, and all of it is happening, though not in the way they expected. Spend some time telling Jesus who He is today. Make it a simple prayer of “You are the Christ, the Son of God,” and camp out on that thought today. Don’t tell anybody, just think about it to grasp it for yourself.