Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (September 13): "But who do you say that I am?"

Scripture: Mark 8:27-35

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" 28 And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets." 29 And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." 30 And he charged them to tell no one about him. 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. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." 34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.

Meditation: Who is Jesus for you - and what difference does he make in your life? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke, professed,  "You are the Christ" (Mark 8:29) - "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God.

Through the "eyes of faith" Peter discovered who Jesus truly was. Peter recognized that Jesus was much more than a great teacher, prophet, and miracle worker. Peter was the first apostle to publicly declare that Jesus was the Anointed One (the Messiah and Christ), consecrated by the Father and sent into the world to redeem a fallen human race enslaved to sin and cut off from eternal life with God (Luke 9:20, Acts 2:14-36). The word for "Christ" in Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah" - both words literally mean the Anointed One.

Jesus begins to explain the mission he was sent to accomplish
Why did Jesus command his disciples to be silent about his identity as the anointed Son of God? Jesus knew that they did not yet fully understand his mission and how he would accomplish it. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD), an early church father, explains the reason for this silence:

There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father. He utterly abolished death and wiped out destruction. He robbed hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy. He took away the sin of the world, opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven. These things proved him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. (Commentary on Luke, Homily 49)

God's Anointed Son must suffer and die to atone for our sins
 Peter's faith was sorely tested when Jesus explained that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption may be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard these words! How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8)! It was through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross that Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and the oppression of our enemy, Satan, the father of lies and the deceiver of humankind. 

The cost of discipleship - following Christ
The Lord Jesus explained to all who would listen what it would personally cost them to follow him as their Lord and Messiah (Mark 8:34) - it would cost them everything, even their very lives! How can anyone make such a demand? God the Father freely gave us his Son, the Lord Jesus, to save us from sin and death - not just physical death but spiritual death as well. When we exchange our life for his we receive far more than we give up. We receive pardon, peace, and the abundant life of God's kingdom now, and the promise of the resurrection and unending life with God in the age to come.

When we discover the treasure of God's kingdom - God himself - we gladly give up all that we have in exchange for the life of joy and happiness God offers us. God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish. The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death.

We, too, have a share in the mission and victory of Jesus Christ
If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the "cross" that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses (does not align) with God's will, then his will must be done. To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his dying and rising again on the third day.

The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strength we need to live as sons and daughters of God our heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to personally know and experience the love of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit gives us the  power and help we need to follow Jesus daily and live the Gospel faithfully. The Holy Spirit fills us with boldness, confidence, and courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the Gospel. Do you believe that Jesus has power to change and transform your life through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit? Who do you say that Jesus is for you?

"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior. Make my faith strong and help me to live in the victory of the cross by rejecting sin and by accepting your will."

Psalm 116:1-9

1 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;  I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I beseech you, save my life!"
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
9 I walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Peter confesses that Jesus is God's Anointed Son and Savior of all, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)

"You see the skillfulness of the question. He [Jesus] did not at once say, 'Who do you say that I am?' He refers to the rumor of those that were outside their company. Then, having rejected it and shown it unsound, he might bring them back to the true opinion. It happened that way. When the disciples had said, 'Some, John the Baptist, and others, Elijah, and others, that some prophet of those in old time has risen up,' he said to them, 'But you, who do you say that I am?' Oh! how full of meaning is that word you! He separates them from all others, that they may also avoid the opinions of others. In this way, they will not conceive an unworthy idea about him or entertain confused and wavering thoughts. Then they will not also imagine that John had risen again, or one of the prophets. 'You,' he says, 'who have been chosen,' who by my decree have been called to the apostleship, who are the witnesses of my miracles. Who do you say that I am?'" (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 49)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: 
copyright (c) 2015 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

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