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?