Herod thought He was John the Baptist.
Some Jews thought He was Elijah.
Rome would label Him a traitor.
Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ”—the Messiah, the Anointed One—was a profound confession of truth, so much that in the parallel story recorded in Matthew 16:17, Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Peter didn’t know the extent of the profound truth he had just uttered. Earlier in the chapter, Peter didn’t trust that Christ could bless and break a single loaf of bread to satisfy the disciples’ hunger. Later in Mark 8, Peter rebuked Jesus for plainly describing His coming death, though it was necessary for Messiah to die. (We will read more about that in tomorrow’s study.) In other words, though Peter’s answer—“You are the Christ”—was completely accurate, he was deficient in his understanding of howJesus would save His people.
Isaiah described Messiah the gentle, afflicted Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) who would usher in freedom (Isaiah 61:1–2). Jesus introduced Himself by reading Isaiah 61 to the elders at the temple (Luke 4:17–21). Daniel wrote that Messiah would reign with the blessing of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13–14). He would be of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Malachi 3:1 and 4:5 foretold that Messiah would be announced by a messenger, a type of Elijah. Mark 1:2–4 confirms that this messenger was John the Baptist. The book of Malachi was the final word from God for more than four hundred years—until the Word became flesh.
Thus far in the book of Mark, Jesus has kept His identity as Messiah a secret. There’s one notable instance, in the book of John, where He plainly divulges who He is . . . to a woman.
“The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’” (John 4:25–26). As He sat by a well, thirsty, the God-man declared His identity to a Samaritan. She immediately ran home to tell everyone about Jesus, and He did not forbid it. Many Samaritans were saved!
Another woman was praised by Jesus for anointing Him with expensive perfume in preparation for His burial (Mark 14:18). She saw clearly what the disciples viewed dimly: that the Messiah must die.
What does this mean for us? The kingdom of God is a plot-twist kingdom. People the disciples would not expect—blind men and Syrophoenician women— saw Jesus more clearly than they. Well-educated Pharisees suffered blindness toward the Messiah, even in their zeal to serve God.
We can be like the Pharisees, knowing all the right rituals and passages but blind to the Savior, or we can believe that Jesus is who Scripture says He is.
Who do you say Jesus is?