Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "The Most Important Question"
At the center of the narrative in Mark’s Gospel, there are two provoking questions that serve to clarify the true identity of Jesus. Is he just a prophet or is he God’s messiah and anointed deliverer? In Mark 8:27-30, the Messiahship of Jesus is magnified: he is the Christ, the anointed one, and the king! As readers of this narrative, we are challenged to follow Jesus.
1. Who do people say that I am? (8:27) Mark’s gospel is preoccupied with the question pertaining to Jesus’ identity. It is in this passage where Jesus himself directly asks the question: “Who do people say that I am?” All the answers have the common denominator of identifying Jesus as a "prophet." This, however, degrades Jesus, since they do not understand his true identity as the messiah.
2. Who do you say that I am? (8:29) The question is then given to the disciples, calling for a commitment of discipleship. Peter rightly responds by affirming that Jesus is "the Christ," namely, the “anointed one” (messiah) of God and the promised Davidic king (cf. Mk 1:1; 14:60-61; 2 Sam 7). With this response, Peter recognizes Jesus to be God’s anointed deliverer, who acts with God’s authority and has come to establish his kingdom.
What We Learn:
From these two questions, we learn something about Jesus, as well as something about ourselves. First, from this passage we learn that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Davidic King anticipated from the Old Testament. Secondly, we learn that we ourselves cannot read this passage dispassionately. These questions challenge us to make a decision—to follow Christ or reject him. Thus, there are no mere observers in the drama of redemptive history. A person is either a participant in the work of God’s kingdom or in opposition against God.
1. In this passage, Jesus first asks the question: “who do the people say that I am?” This question is relevant even in our world today, where there are so many different ideas of who Jesus is. How does the world describe who Jesus is? How does this passage clarify his real identity? How might this passage help us in our evangelist efforts?
2. This passage shows us the danger of trying to identify Jesus based on skewed ideas or personal preferences. The people wrongly identified Jesus based on their own categories and ideas about him (i.e., he is a “prophet”). How does this challenge you in the way you identify who Jesus is?
3. How does the declaration of Jesus as "the Christ" connect with the unfolding story of the Old Testament? What does it mean that Jesus is “the Christ”? Why is this important?
Further Resources for studying Jesus as Messiah in the Old and New Testaments:
Michael F. Bird, Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels (IVP Academic, 2013). See also, Michael F. Bird, Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Baker Academic, 2009).
Herbert Bateman IV, Gordon Johnston, and Darrell Bock, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King (Kregel, 2013).
Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Messiah in the Old Testament (Zondervan, 1995).
Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament (IVP Academic, 1995).