Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”
29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”
30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.
Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”
34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38
Do you know anyone who is clearly well grounded in his identity? He never looks over his shoulder to consider who is watching. She never flinches from being who she is. I’m not talking here of someone who is an in-your-face kind of self-identified person. I’m not speaking about a blustering or bulldozer personality. I can think of one or two right off the top of my head.
One is my wife. Although she does not put herself out there or make a big splash. She lives well within her identity. Another is a good friend and former co-worker. She knew who she was and was a strong force of God’s grace to many, and to me personally. People who know who they are, embrace their true identity in humility and grace can have a powerfully good impact in others’ lives.
Of course the key is humility, clarity, and grace when it comes to we who are saints and sinners. For it is all too easy to bluster and overpower others if we lack those traits – or if we are really insecure in our identity. Insecurity in our identity works its way out so very often in ways that look anything but insecure.
Then there’s Jesus. He does not ask his disciples who they think he is because it is insecure. He knows who he is. He heard it from his Father at his baptism: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). He faced down Satan who challenged him: “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3ff). He was certain of who he was. He was living into and out of that identity purposefully, intentionally, and clearly. He knew who he was and why he came.
And on this occasion, he reveals the earthly end to his ministry. He would die at the hands of the religious leaders. And on the third day he would be raised from the dead. When he was challenged about this by Peter, he stood fast. Calling Peter “Satan” (we’ll look at that tomorrow), he aligned himself with his Father’s will and his purpose as the Son of God and Messiah. I
It doesn’t matter what others may think in terms of Jesus’ identity and purpose. Their opinion will not change the way he is living. Their opinion will actually serve to bring his earthly life to its ultimate earthly end. Here, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. On the day of his death, the Roman centurion will declare, “Surely this was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). What will be your confession today about this Jesus of Nazareth? Will you let him identify you as his beloved sister or brother?