Saturday 20 November 2021

Bible Book:

He asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' (v. 29)

Mark 8:27–9:1 Saturday 20 November 2021

Psalm 40:1-10


As well as Mark, the gospel writers Matthew and Luke also record this 'confession of faith'. It is a crucial point in Jesus’ ministry and  it means that Jesus can continue his mission confident that his closest followers will go with him all the way to Jerusalem.

In the readings over the past week Jesus has been in and out of the lands around Galilee (the kingdom of Herod). Today’s reading takes place about 25 miles north of the lake, outside Herod’s jurisdiction and, as the name Caesarea Philippi reveals, in the territory of Philip, who was the son of Herod the Great. This group of villages, where the names of Roman and Jewish political leaders are joined,  is perhaps an unlikely place for any confession of faith in Jesus. It was an area that had been part of the Greek empire and had a shrine to the god Pan, along with Romans embracing the cult of Caesar. There were plenty of gods to choose from!

 “Who do you say I am?”(v. 29) asks Jesus, emphasising the word 'you'. After the apparent spiritual blindness of the last chapter, Jesus must have been relieved to hear Peter at least answer, “You are the Messiah.” But did they all really comprehend what that meant, and what Jesus would have to go through – and why? More understanding would follow (read the Transfiguration story in Mark 9:2-12), but we read in today’s verses 31-33 that Peter still could not conceive of his master suffering. Moreover, we have no idea of the reaction of the crowd that had gathered, notably to the difficult words for any follower of Jesus found in verses 34-36.

Nearly 2,000 years later we face Jesus, who is asking the same question: “Who do you say I am?” Do we see a man, a prophet, yet more? Do we see the Son of God, alive in spirit and in truth? If we do, then we will understand that this is no easy master to follow; but it is a relationship that leads us into eternal life. More than that, this relationship with the living Christ now, enables us to see more clearly the signs of the kingdom all around us, and join in.

 What a privilege!


 To Ponder:

  • What is your response to Jesus: “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”(v. 34)?
  • As we ponder the decisions of COP 26 in Glasgow, are there responses that disciples of Jesus might make individually and collectively, as signs of the kingdom?


We end the week with a prayer, based on StF 662, 'Have you heard God's voice?*' Could this have been said by St Peter?

“We will walk the path that will cost us much
and embrace the pain and sorrow.
We will trust in one who entrusts to us
the disciples of tomorrow.* Amen. 

(*Words by Jacqui Watts, and quoted with permission)

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