International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending February 6, 2011
Purpose: To realize that claiming Jesus as Lord requires actions as well as words.
Scripture Text: Mark 8:27-38 Mark 9:1 (NRSV)
(27)Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”(28)And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” (29)He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” (30)And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
(31)Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (32)He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (33)But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
(34)He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (35)For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (36)For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? (37)Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? (38)Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
(1)And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This passage contains three distinct events and questions. (1) Mark 8:27-30, (2) Mark 8:31-33, (3) Mark 8:34-9:1. The first event takes place in a Gentile region called Caesarea Phillippi about twenty-five miles north of the Sea of Galilee. The city was built by Herod Phillip II in honor of Caesar Augustus. Herod Phillip II was the son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra.
Question number one is; “Who do men say that I am?” Question number two; “but who do you say that I am?” And question number three; “what will a man give in exchange in exchange for his soul?”
The first two questions occur when Jesus and His disciples are on a road outside the city, and seem to be addressed specifically to the twelve. That first question is still quite relevant for all of those that claim to be a follower today. And today we get some of the same answers, a prophet, a philosopher, a teacher. But then Jesus narrows the discussion, “what about you” “who do you say that I am?” Since Jesus already knew the answer to both questions why did he ask them?
Why is important that you answer them? The question is not who does your church say that I am? It is much more personal, how you answer can determine where you will spend eternity. The world says one thing, your church says another, but the most important question is addressed to you. While Peter answered correctly, I doubt he realized at the time, that his expectations of a worldly kingdom would not be fulfilled during his lifetime. One has to wonder if Jesus had taught verse 31 prior to asking the question; how Peter would have responded. Jesus obviously thought it was important for Peter and his other disciples to verbalize their thoughts, and declare who Jesus was. Jesus knew that doubts and fear would soon be upon all of those that were following Him. It could be the reason it is so important for us to share our testimony and belief.
The next event begins in verse 31 where Jesus is now addressing not only the twelve, but all of His followers. These included people that were just there for the show, the miracles. Imagine how their minds raced when they heard this miracle worker talk about his murder and death at the hands of the religious leaders. The most outrageous claim was that He would “rise again” after being dead three days, a period of time that was considered impossible by any God fearing Jew or Gentile. I would imagine that this may have thinned the crowd following Jesus. Jesus then calls the entire remaining crowd together and explains that following Jesus is not easy, it will be a difficult journey and requires giving up of what “we” want in favor of being obedient to the task before them.
The third event begins in verse 34, and the message is clear, there is no earthly glory, no riches to be claimed, only denial of one's self. The reward is for a future time and place. Jesus then asks the third question. “What can you give in exchange for your life?”
Acknowledge Jesus now, and He will acknowledge you in glory. Deny Him now and He will deny you in glory. Who do you say Jesus is? Your answer matters.