Some Say…

As Jesus and his disciples were moving through the villages of Caesarea Phillipi, Jesus asked his disciples who the people say that he is.

This is the question.

This is the question that has continued to reverberate through the centuries and through millenia. Who is Jesus?

This is the same question that the disciples asked. Who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?

This is the same question that the Pharisees asked one another. Who is this that forgives sins?

And now we have Jesus asking the disciples, who do the people say that I am?

The disciples aren’t sure what to say. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. Here is their response:

“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Mark 8:28

Why is there so much confusion? Jesus has actually been answering this question himself by revealing himself to the people. But still there is confusion. Why? Because Jesus is God, and we can’t begin to imagine that God himself would be here with us. Surely that isn’t possible, is it? And yet it is, and that is what Jesus wants his disciples to understand and live by – to believe.

At the same time, though, as we see in the disciples’ answer to Jesus’s question, there is a lot of confusion about who Jesus is. It struck me today, as I was reading this passage, that the answers are all from the past:

John the Baptist – John was the one who was to come before Jesus, to proclaim repentance and make straight the path for the Lord.

Elijah – Elijah was a prophet who was swept up into heaven without ever actually dying. Prophecy said that Elijah would return, so the people would say that Jesus is Elijah.

One of the prophets – There were many prophets that spoke to the people on God’s behalf. Moses also spoke of a Prophet who was to come to whom the people must listen, and this was another guess that we saw by the Pharisees when they questioned John the Baptist about who he was.

My point here is that the people were looking to the past, to what they knew, what they had read, and what they understood. But God isn’t just a God of the past, he is a God of the present, and a God of the future. He routinely does what the people do not expect, and often things that people have a hard time understanding. And that is exactly what is happening in this case. God has come to earth to be with his people, showing himself in the form of a man, and that man is Jesus.

Despite the fact that “some say…” this, or “others say” that, we need to continue to look to Jesus and understand who he showed himself to be. Jesus made the winds and waves obey him. The evil spirits obeyed him. He healed people of their sicknesses with nothing more than words. He fulfilled the prophecies of the one that would come. He forgave sins. And Jesus spoke and taught the people with authority…because he was the one who had authority. Jesus is God who has come in the flesh to reestablish his kingdom here on earth, purchasing the people out of the kingdom darkness to come into his kingdom. May we believe and worship him!

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