27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"When you read the Gospel of Mark, you'll notice that when people came in contact with Jesus of Nazareth, their reaction was seldom the reaction you get today, one of polite neutrality. Jesus inspired devotion in people, they were prepared to die for Him. He inspired fear in people, they were awestruck by His words and deeds. He also inspired hatred in people, especially towards the end of His time on Earth.
28They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."
29"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "You are the Christ."
30Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
People were amazed when He forgave sins. "Who can forgive sins but God Himself?" they cried. Who was this that even winds and waves obey Him? Jesus loved to turn this question back on His followers. Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?
Anyone familiar with the prophets in the Old Testament was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, who would put things right. Jesus read these passages to his disciples and then sat down and told them, "Today, this scripture is fulfilled. I am He"
Even with the many answers given as to who the people on the street thought Jesus was, He makes it more personal and asks, "Who do you say I am?" Peter's answer says that, even though he didn't fully understand Jesus' divinity, he knew enough to know that Jesus was the one that all the prophets of the Old Testament pointed to.
This was not the party line for a young Jewish man... "Hear o Israel, the Lord, your God, is one." Peter's confession was a breakthrough of monumental preportions. Peter's experience with Jesus in the first chapters of the gospel brought him to this conclusion. God, the father, had revealed this truth. The Spirit of God, using the Word of God, Jesus Himself, opened Peter's heart. The Bible contains all the truth we need to have Jesus revealed to us as well. If you will examine it with an open heart, then God will reveal this to you as well.
The question of Jesus' identity is a personal one. The person next to you cannot answer for you. Jesus warns not to tell others about His identity, because it will not be their testimony that will convert them, but an encounter with Jesus Himself. Jesus had to be rejected, and crucifed, first, before He could fulfill His role as the Messiah.
If, in His love, He desires to be around sinners...If, in His justice, He cannot ignore our sins...How, then can He display His love and execute His justice? That is the great question. And, the answer is in the cross. At the cross, Jesus is an emblem of the Father's love, and Jesus is the one that bears the Father's wrath. If He simply excused sin, He would not be true Himself in the perfection of His holiness. He executes his justice on His Son, so that those who deserve His wrath can find forgiveness in that Son. Then, it becomes very wonderful. Who do you say I am? You are the Christ. You are the One that bears our sin and reconciles us to the Father.
In the mystery of God's purposes, God speaks by His Spirit, through his Word, and through my mouth. God makes his appeal to you right now through the lips of a mortal, preaching, talks like this. The idea that my typing would have a life changing effect on anyone is absurd. It is almost impossible. There is no possibility of me being able to put words together to convince you that Jesus is the Christ. God, by His Spirit, is the one that makes that change in you. God is able to overcome your skepticism. Here, in the cross is the answer.
My word to you, the very word of God Himself, is cast yourself upon Him. Come and bow your knee before His cross. Declare with a faltering tongue, but declare, none the less, that "You are the Christ." Remember, no one else can answer for you. He asks you, "Who do you say I am?"
These are my notes from a seven part podcast from Alistair Begg www.truthforlife.org