Read Mark 8:27-38
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, ‘This man truly was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15:39, NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 152: Mysterious Son. Thus far, we’ve explored the birth of Jesus, we’ve witnessed his baptism, we’ve journeyed with him through the wilderness, and we’ve seen the people surrounding him during those times. Now I would like to take a look at Jesus as presented in each of the Gospels, starting with the earliest of the Gospels to have been written: Mark.
In Mark, perhaps, Jesus displays the most wide-range of human emotion. At any given point, he is happy, hopeful, tired, exhausted, sad, in despair, afraid, confused, and extremely convicted. The other Gospels show Jesus experiencing emotion too; however, Mark’s Jesus is the most down-to-earth. With that said, it would be the wrong to read any sort of Christological categorization into that. Some scholars who take the Historical Criticism approach to understanding the Bible see Jesus’ humility in Mark to be signs of a lack of initial divinity.
What does that mean? That means that some scholars attempt to see Jesus merely as a man who, through his baptism and subsequent death on the cross, was adopted as the Son of God. This, of course, is heterodoxy or a deviation from the acknowledged standard of Christian interpretation. If we read mark closely, we see that Jesus is acknowledged as the Son of God right off the bat and he knows he is all throughout. There is simply no evidence for “adoption” in Mark’s Gospel at all! In the very first verse Mark writes, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1, KJV). The rest of the Gospel pursues the mystery of Jesus’ identity in God and the climax of just how that mystery unfolds and is finally realized.
Jesus starts off his ministry pretty well. His first miraculous act was the casting out of a demon. He picked out 12 disciples out of the crowd that followed him and he taught them the inner secrets of what he was doing. He healed people, proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and started off his ministry on the right foot. Yet, by chapter 3, following choosing his disciples, we see that his own family did not believe him. They thought that he had gone crazy and wanted to take him home before he got himself killed. “Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:33-35, NRSV).
Okay, cool, right? It was a bummer that his family didn’t get it, but he had his disciples at least. They got him, didn’t they? In chapter 4 we find out that even his disciples, despite being told the “inner secrets”, still did not understand who Jesus was. Thus, from chapter 4 and onward, we see Jesus’ growing frustration with his disciples, let alone with the Jewish religious leaders, scribes and Herodians.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that the only one’s who seem to really know who Jesus is throughout the entirety of the text are the demons. The least of these, including the women, come the closest to understanding Jesus’ identity, but even they fall short. The only other human being to fully recognize Jesus’ identity was the Roman officer who was supervising over his crucifixion and death. Crazy, right?
So, what’s Mark’s message to us? The message is simple, those who think they are closest to Jesus tend to miss the mark in who he is, as do those who think they have no need for Jesus; however, those who know their need for Christ (e.g., the distant, the broken, the lost, the sinner, the poor, the poor in spirit, the least of these, etc.) are the ones most likely to have Christ’s identity revealed to them. Why? Because their hearts are receptive to it. Let this challenge us to open ourselves up to the Christ who would be our Lord and Savior if we would only acknowledge him as such.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’” ¾ Jesus Christ (Mark 4:11-12, NLT)
Lord, open my heart and mind to who you are so that my life may be transformed through you! Amen.