Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They respond that some say He is John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and some say one of the prophets. Then Jesus, testing their faith, asks, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” So Jesus says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
The confession that Jesus is the Son of God is the rock on which the church will be built. Soon in the story, after the resurrection of Christ, those who believe in Him as the Son of God and receive the power of the Holy Spirit will begin gathering together to worship as the church, and they will be called Christians (Acts 11:26).
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day… Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’”
Following Jesus in this dark world is not easy. He never says it will be. But it is so worth it. Nothing this world offers can satisfy the longings of your heart and give you the peace you desire besides an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior. Paul will later write about this peace to the new Christians:
- “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
- “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
We end the reading with Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain where Jesus is transfigured; His face is like the sun and His clothes white as the light. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, talking with Him “and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
When Jesus is alone again, the disciples ask Him why the scribes say Elijah must come first. Jesus responds, “‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist” (Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:11-13).
Just as they killed John the Baptist, Jesus soon will be turned over to the cruel hands of men who will crucify Him. However, this is all part of God’s original plan that He laid out for us at the beginning of this story in Genesis 3:15. After the fall, God gave Adam and Eve a promise that He was sending them a Savior, and He gave them a picture of that promise when He killed an innocent animal and used the skin to cover the guilty, Adam and Eve. Jesus’ death, as the final atoning Sacrifice, will be sufficient to remove our sins and cleanse us for a right relationship with the Lord, which was broken back in the garden. Jesus will lay down His life, as prophesied throughout this entire story, to give us new life and to restore us to His Father.
More teaching from Jesus tomorrow, so keep reading. (Mark 8:22-30, Matthew 16:13-20, Luke 9:18-20, Mark 8:31-9:1, Matthew 16:21-28, Luke 9:21-27, Mark 9:2-13, Matthew 17:1-13, Luke 9:28-36)