In today's text we reach the very midpoint of Mark's gospel, the point where the teachings, and healings and exorcisms give way to the, almost frantic, rush to Jerusalem for Jesus as He goes to meet His destiny.
He turns in the road and asks the disciples, and the crowd behind them..."who do the people say that I am?"...and then more urgently "But who do YOU say that I am?"
A question that reverberates throughout history and throughout the life of each and every Christian.
When Jesus asks the disciples, the crowd and we the reader 2000 years on, who do you say that I am, He is really asking...who are you?
Who we are as disciples is based completely on who and what we think Jesus is. At first it seems that Peter completely gets it when he answers immediately "You are the Messiah"
But just as soon as Peter confesses Jesus' divinity he is being rebuked as fiercely as anyone ever is throughout the whole of the Greek text because although he says the right words, he does not understand their meaning.
Peter, the rest of the disciples...and if we are honest, many of us much of the time, are happy to confess Jesus as Messiah so long as He is the Messiah we want. Peter and the 12 are anticipating the next Davidic monarch who will raise an army and throw off the Roman oppressors, restoring Israel to its former glory. But Jesus is no revisionist, The plan for the Kingdom of God is much bigger than one nation with God on its side, rather it's God on the side of everyone! No more us and them, no more rich and poor. The lessons Jesus has been teaching are about equity, justice, compassion, love...the only things we take with us. Are you ready to lose everything else in the quest for these things, the foundations of the Kingdom Jesus is building?
If so, I ask again...Who do you say that Jesus is?
Ready yourself for the true answer, not the convenient Messiah you might want but most surely, the one you need.