In today’s Gospel message, we learn the answers to several questions… Who is Jesus? Who do the people say He is? Who do the disciples say that He is? What’s going to happen to Him? What was His mission? And finally, what does it cost to be a Christian — a true follower of Jesus? Let’s dig in…
When we last left Jesus and company, He just finished telling the Pharisees how blind they were and scolding the disciples for not understanding what he was all about. Here, Jesus opens the eyes of the blind in more ways than one!
Jesus Heals a Blind Man
22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”
Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”
29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”
30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Jesus Predicts His Death
31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”Mark 8:22-38 NLT
Let’s Unpack This…
- In total, in all the Gospel stories, Jesus opened the blind eyes of 7 people. Each one differently! He works differently with different people. No 2 people have the same experience when they start a personal relationship with Jesus.
- In this case, He took the man away from the insincere people. In Matthew 23, He called the Pharisees, whom He rebuked in yesterday’s passages, “Blind Guides”. Imagine being led by a blind guide! Where do you think the phrase, “the blind leading the blind” came from. If you are blind, and you’re following a guide who is also blind, you both are going to end up in a ditch. That’s not a good outcome. Open your eyes! Ask Jesus to open them for you! Ask Him to help you understand it all. Guess what? He will!
- I think the man had cataracts. If they are really bad, you are blind. I had them a few years ago and I was seeing things in a fog — very blurry. Had I let them go, I’d be blind today. Praise God that I was able to get to the right eye doctor and have surgery.
Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
And this is a picture of our salvation… Before I knew Jesus my spiritual eyes were blind to the things of God. Yet when I repented of my sin and trusted Jesus – He opened my eyes to His light. I could see… not with the sharpest, clearest definition… but at least I could see…
Since then, I’ve grown in my discernment. My sight continues to improve. In fact, the day is coming when I’ll have perfect sight. 1 Corinthians 13:12, (Paul writes) “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (NLT) The Christian life is a sight-giving process.
And this is where our faith gets tested. It’s not faith if you can see all the details. Today, I know God. I’m no longer blind. But I still don’t see everything clearly. Thus, I need to trust Him even when I can’t see Him.Sandy Adams
Who Do You Say that Jesus is?
First let’s look at the wrong answers. Keep in mind the time and place — Caeserea Philippi was a Gentile/pagan area. It’s where the Romans worshiped the god Pan.
- Those who said that Jesus was John the Baptist didn’t see John’s forerunner status. They saw John as a moral reformer. Dig deeper: Luke 1, Matthew 3, John 1.
- The ones who said He was the prophet Elijah had an eschatological (or end times) view. In the Old Testament, Elijah didn’t die — he was raptured. It was also implied that He’d come back to announce the coming Messiah — John’s job. The Jews were waiting for Elijah, but they didn’t see John as him. Jews today are STILL waiting for Elijah. I think he’s going to be one of the 2 witnesses in the Book of Revelation. However, I won’t be here to find out — I’ll be Raptured. You really don’t want to be Left Behind to find out either!
- Lastly, they say that Jesus is one of the “other prophets”. The thing is, all the Old Testament prophets prophesied about the coming Messiah — Jesus!
Liar, Lunatic or Lord?
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity (affiliate link)
Peter Gets it Right!
Jesus is the Christ (Greek), the Messiah (Hebrew), the Anointed One (English), the Son of the Living God. Notice that Mark keeps to the point and doesn’t say what Matthew says. That’s the passage that the Roman Catholic Church twists into making you think that Peter was the first pope, when he was not. Here’s the truth about Peter.
Jesus then tells them not to say anything, to keep quiet. Why? Well, here’s what the Jews thought Jesus was going to do…
- Bring or raise up an army to,
- Destroy the Gentiles (Romans) then,
- Restore the Kingdom to its Davidic glory.
- Ancient writings found in Qumran said the Messiah would kill the Roman Emperor!
Telling people would cause chaos.
The Messiah Must Suffer and Die
- This was prophesied – Isaiah 53 for one.
- They didn’t get that this was all part of the Messiah’s mission.
- No one could stop Jesus from giving His Life on the Cross to take away our sins.
- Why did Jesus call Peter, Satan? It’s because that’s where the idea came from.
Paul explains Jesus’ sacrifice…
25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.Romans 3:25-26 NLT
9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.Romans 5:9 NLT
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.Ephesians 1:7 NLT
19 For God in all his fullnessColossians 1:19-20 NLT
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Dig Deeper: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
What is the Cost of Following Jesus?
The Cross. It was the Roman instrument of cruelty, torture and death. Jesus died on the cross taking our sins away. Three days later, he defeated death by rising from the grave.
To TRULY follow Jesus, you must…
- Deny yourself — your OLD self.
- In Luke’s version, he adds the word “daily“. That means that each day, you must die to your old life. See, every day, Satan is going to tempt you to go back to that life. Whether it’s with a thought, a person, a TV show, a billboard, etc.
- When you surrender your life to Jesus and follow Him, you identify with Christ.
- You must say goodbye to your old life and live in your new life with Jesus.
- Paul wrote…
8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.Romans 6:8 NLT
Pastor Danny Saavedra explains what Jesus wants from his followers…
The Greek word for deny is aparnēsasthō. It means “to disown, disregard, to refuse or reject.” To deny yourself means to deny your self-lordship, to refuse to recognize yourself as the lord of your life. It’s surrendering lordship of your life over to Him—not in most areas, but in every area and committing every facet of your life to Christ fully, daily.
Take up your cross.
When a criminal carried his cross through the streets, his life was essentially over. Here, Jesus is calling us to think of ourselves as having died to our old selves—to bury all of our worldly desires and dreams, all the plans and agendas we’ve made for ourselves. Why? Because our new life is not about us, it’s all about living for Him, in Him, and by Him. The directive is proclaiming our need to be willing to surrender anything and everything in order to be His disciples.
On the surface, this may not sound like fun, but the undeniable truth of humanity is this: Our ways, paths, and plans are flawed, limited, and often dominated by pride, selfish ambition, and sinful desires. But His plan for us is perfect. His plan is always better for us than our plans. His plan will always lead to greater joy, peace, purpose, strength, wisdom, and fulfillment. His plan is ALWAYS for our good and His glory. So, when you take that proper perspective, how could you not want to surrender your own agenda, which was formulated and fashioned within the heart and mind of an imperfect, limited sinner (yes, that’s you and me; it’s who we are!) and submit to His perfect will?
Lose your life for my sake.
This is where the cost analysis comes in: We truly find the life we were created for when we surrender the life we have now to Jesus. As Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
How do we lose ourselves? By investing all that we are and have in Him and His gospel; by saying to Jesus, “Lord, here’s my life, home, family, checkbook, career, gifts and talents, brain, heart, hands, feet, mouth, desires, ambitions, and world. It’s all yours. Use it all. Use all of me to glorify Yourself and advance Your kingdom and Your purposes here on earth!”
The cost is essentially lordship of your life. But what do we get? Everything! We get Jesus as Lord, and with that we gain true life now, eternal life in heaven, freedom, purpose and meaning, truth, comfort, wisdom, peace, joy, value, strength, security, hope, and real love!
We must all count the cost. Being His disciple is costly, but so worth it. Are you all in?Danny Saavedra, The Gospel of Mark (Part Four):
Are YOU ALL IN?
Here’s what you need to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
- Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.