Part 2: Messiah presents Himself to the disciples.
We often wrongly conclude that the twelve knew who Jesus really was at the outset when they were called to follow Him. Although they knew some very important things about Him, and that their understanding and knowledge of Him increased over their time with Him, it was not really until after His resurrection that they came to know Him as they should have.
What they did understand at any given time is not always revealed to us and so we erroneously conclude that they had in depth knowledge, understanding, and faith in the correct aspects of the Messiah.
As we know, they didn't exactly believe in His resurrection until after He presented Himself resurrected, although He told them of its certainty many times prior.
For this subject we will use the Gospel of Mark.
Mark presents his gospel in groupings of three.
We will look at one such grouping.
MAR 4:10 And as soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables.
MAR 4:11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables."
He explains the all important parable of the sower.
They get into the boat and cross over the Sea of Galilee.
A fierce storm came down upon the sea and threatened to capsize the boat and Jesus was asleep on a cushion. They woke Him and He rebuked the wind.
MAR 4:40 And He said to them, "Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?"
No faith in who is in the boat with them - do they know who He is?
MAR 4:41 And they became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
After this, many more miracles are performed, and in chapter 6 He feeds the 5000.
After He feeds the 5000, He sends the twelve across the Sea of Galilee again, but without His accompaniment. Another storm crashes down upon them and this time Jesus comes by them walking upon the water.
Crossing #2: another storm and Jesus walks on water.
MAR 6:49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
MAR 6:50 for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid."
MAR 6:51 And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished,
MAR 6:52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
What did they not gain insight into? Who He actually was. Rather than knowing this, their hearts are actually hardened.
After this there are many more miracles and they witness them. And then in chapter 8 Jesus feeds 4000.
This is the third time they cross the Sea of Galilee and fits Marks use of groupings of three. In this case He was doing what He did in every case after a miracle, He was teaching them. This time He was teaching them the all important lesson to beware of the leaven or in the inherent evil and sin of the Pharisees and of Herod. But likely not hearing a word, they are discussing the fact that they forgot to take bread with them. They had one loaf for the thirteen of them.
Remember that they had only a little bit when Jesus fed the 5000 and the 4000, and now here, the third time, they have one loaf for 13.
MAR 8:14 And they had forgotten to take bread; and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.
MAR 8:15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
MAR 8:16 And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.
MAR 8:17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?
MAR 8:18 "Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember,
MAR 8:19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?" They said to Him," Twelve."
MAR 8:20 "And when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?" And they said to Him, "Seven."
MAR 8:21 And He was saying to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
What don't they yet understand? Him. They don't yet fully understand Him. This is not how it should be. From the first instance:
MAR 4:11 "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables,
MAR 4:12 in order that while seeing, they may see and not perceive; and while hearing, they may hear and not understand lest they return and be forgiven."
MAR 4:13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable?"
Then, immediately after the incident of no bread in the boat, enter the blind man.
MAR 8:22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Him, and entreated Him to touch him.
Bethsaida = Peter's home town.
MAR 8:23 And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?"
MAR 8:24 And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about."
MAR 8:25 Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.
MAR 8:26 And He sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."
Immediately after this they head north to Caesarea Philippi and Jesus hits them straight up with the question:
MAR 8:27 And Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?"
MAR 8:28 And they told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets."
MAR 8:29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "Thou art the Christ."
MAR 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
So Peter gets it right! He must have been very happy about this. He had come to know who Jesus really was. But then, very soon after, Peter reveals that he doesn't know the whole story.
Jesus again begins to teach them.
MAR 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
MAR 8:32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
MAR 8:33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Peter actually scores a mark of "Satan" on his test.
This is another pattern of three in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus anticipates His suffering and death:
8:31 - Peter rebukes
9:31 - disciples discuss who's the greatest
10:32 - John and James ask to sit on His right and left.
The second instance:
MAR 9:31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later."
MAR 9:32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.
MAR 9:33 And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
MAR 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
The third instance:
MAR 10:33 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles.
MAR 10:34 "And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again."
MAR 10:35 And James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Him, saying to Him, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You."
MAR 10:36 And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
MAR 10:37 And they said to Him, "Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left."
MAR 10:38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
MAR 10:39 And they said to Him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.
MAR 10:40 "But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
In all three instances they are taught of the humility required to follow Him. All is on His terms and not ours.
The first instance:
MAR 8:34 "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
MAR 8:35 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it."
The second instance:
MAR 9:35 And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."
MAR 9:36 And taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
MAR 9:37 "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."
The third instance:
MAR 10:42 "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
MAR 10:43 "But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;
MAR 10:44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
MAR 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Let's return to our third crossing of the sea just after Jesus feeds the four thousand.
After feeding the 4000:
Blind disciples in the boat
Blind man at Bethsaida
Blind Peter (who's from Bethsaida)
In each case of blindness, Jesus asks a question that gets straight to the heart of it.
Three questions from Christ:
Why are you discussing no bread?
What do you see? (blind man)
Who do you say that I am?
Peter is from Bethsaida. He is the blind man from Bethsaida. We all are. The gospel has been given so that we may see.
Back to the blind man. It is the most curious thing that it took Jesus two attempts to cure him. This could be for two reasons - that the blind man possessed a lack of readiness or faith and that Jesus did so on purpose in order to teach a lesson. It is likely for both reasons.
The blind man sees partially. He sees men like trees, in other words, he sees stick figures. Peter sees a stick figure Messiah. He comes to see Jesus as the Messiah and then he interprets that into the form that he expects the Messiah to be, which certainly doesn't include suffering and death.
Like the blind man, Peter only sees partially. He sees the authority and power of the Messiah but he doesn't see the servant Messiah or the suffering Messiah who is to become a curse for him and us all.
This must be understood by them. A partial Messiah is not one. He is not a material thing that can be divided up. The gospel is to believe upon Him as the one and only Savior who suffered, died, and was resurrected for us. Peter's correct view of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God is right on target, but that is not the entirety of Jesus the Lord of all and the Lamb of God.
Whatever our misconceptions of the Lord, God's essence, His truth, or His plan, especially His plan for our lives, when they are shown to be erroneous, and they will be, we must have the humility to allow our thinking to be transformed. We must lose our lives, we must have the faith of children, and we must be servants of Him and all in His body.
They cross the sea three times, two with storms and one with no bread. There are three hungry crowds: 5000, 4000, and 13 in the boat. They do not see in any instance and as soon as they hit land they find a blind man.
And then Peter finally gets it. "You are the Christ! Who else could do all that You do?" Peter would never again doubt that Jesus could feed any number of people. He would never again fear being without food or anything else if Jesus was around. The great happiness within his heart due to his new found clarity is smashed when Jesus says that He will suffer and die. That was not in Peter's program. Messiah's don't suffer and die. They succeed! They aren't rejected. They rule!
Then Peter's understanding is equated with Satan's. Satan's knows the authority of the Son of God but doesn't understand the Son's willingness to die on behalf of all mankind.
We would conclude that Satan also knows of the authority and power of the Son of God. But what Satan doesn't remotely understand is the Son of God's willingness to suffer and die at the hands of evil men so that He could save this pitiful human race. Satan wouldn't suffer the slightest pain to help another.
Peter began to see, but not clearly. He needed a second touch, which would not come to him until after the resurrection of Christ. One wonders if he really did see if he would have denied the Lord at His trial.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Like so many Jews, they found in the scriptures only what they wanted to find. They had envisioned a Messiah who would come in power, solve all their problems, and restore their status as a great kingdom. They only saw a stick Messiah.
Peter was called Satan because he only had man's interests in mind, which ironically enough is not in man's best interest.
Christ lays discipleship on the table for them all when He says:
MAR 8:34 And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
We must follow Him and not an idea of Him.
We can formulate the idea of a Messiah in our minds that is deformed in order to fit some ignorance or fleshly desire within us. Humility before the word of God and yielding to the Holy Spirit as the teacher of the word is of greatest importance. The Messiah has presented Himself to us. Let us not make our own stick Messiah, but let us grow in the full knowledge the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ.
We share in His victory as well as in the weakness of His incarnation, denying ourselves and suffering to the point of death for the gospel.
The Messiah didn't come in power to coerce us. He did not come to offer us a share in the great wealth and status of the world. He came to give us something far greater and deeper. Salvation, eternal life, and the deepest good were given to us.
His good will be in us if we wait and trust in the suffering that genuine love will so often require.
Jesus is the Messiah. He brought supernatural power and shared in our flesh and suffered and died for us.
The gospel is that the Son of God took on flesh and was cursed on a tree for us. How could the church make sense of it? How would the Jews come around to the suffering Messiah? How would the Gentiles without knowledge of Old Testament prophecy come to see? God would call a Pharisee who made it his top priority to destroy the church. God would call Paul.