Parallel Texts: Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-21
After Jesus restores sight to a blind man in 8:22-26, Mark cuts to a new scene. Jesus and the disciples are walking toward Caesarea Philippi, and along the way Jesus asks them who people say that He is.’ They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”’ (v. 28) Then Jesus drops the big question:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Matthew has it this way:
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Some refer to this as “The Great Confession” for it is upon this confession that the church stands. As Matthew makes clear in 16:17-20, not only does the church stand upon this foundation, but also our hope of overcoming death itself rests here, for it is only through the belief that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of the Living God that that anyone will receive eternal life.
Sadly, there is much controversy on this passage, but I must remind myself that we are studying Mark, not Matthew! Suffice it say that the rock is the acknowledgement of the truth of Jesus’ identity and not the poor vessel who first stated it, for in the very next section, Peter will demonstrate his lack of understanding of the totality of what he has said!
Mark finishes this part of the scene by simply stating that Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about this. He does not give a reason for this warning. Maybe we should wait and see if anything will shed light on this as Mark continues.
You might be detecting a subtle shift in Mark’s tone, for while his presentation remains choppy with short scenes moving quickly along, from this point, the tone of Mark’s writing will become more and more serious. He has already begun to provide us with more details more often, and that trend will continue, and though he never provides the amount of in-depth coverage that Matthew and John will provide in parallel texts, Mark will be filling in more details from here on out than he has previously about certain things.
Well, Peter has attained a spiritual high in this text, being the first to say who Jesus is, let’s see if he can stay on that high plane in the next section.