Jesus' disciples were sometimes so blinded by their own expectations that they failed to grasp the truth he was teaching. They latched onto their own hopes and dreams, rather than embracing the unthinkable message of the cross.
Could that be true of us? Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg begins a series titled, They Just Don't Get It, Do We? I invite you to turn to Mark chapter 8. Father, thank you for the Bible.
Thank you for the privilege of turning to its pages. Thank you for the promise of the help of the Holy Spirit to understand and to believe and to obey its truth. We look to you in humility now, in Christ's name.
Amen. All of us, at some time or another, have known the embarrassment of being in a group setting, and somebody in the group has either spoken or acted in a way that is so incongruous that it has brought the collective response, or perhaps, I can't believe he just did that, or I can't believe she just said that. Or if we're very honest, the issue in our minds is not in the third person, but it is in the first person, and we have to say that it was just this morning earlier on that we said to ourselves, I can't believe I just said that.
I don't know about you, but I've had a number of these this week, and it is a salutary reminder of how easy it is for us to take our food out of our mouths so we've got plenty of room to put the other food directly in. Now, I mention this because we're going to look at the three occasions recorded for us in Mark's gospel where Jesus announces his passion, his suffering, and his death. And on each of these occasions, we're going to discover that it introduces us to one of these I can't believe he said that moments. It will become clear as we go along. Now, let's get straight to our business by looking at the context in which this unfolding story takes place and in which we discover this strange moment and this ill-conceived rebuke. We could start many places, but let's just begin with a question that Jesus is asking in verse 18.
Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? The context you can read for yourselves. There's been the feeding of the four thousand. The preoccupation of the disciples is with bread. Jesus has warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees. They haven't fully grasped just why he said what he said. The discussion continues along the lines of bread, and in verse 17, aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them, Why are you talking about having no bread?
It's really quite humorous. And then he says, Do you still not see or understand? Now, that is then followed in verses 22 to 25 with the healing of a blind man at Bethsaida. Jesus acts mercifully in the response to some people who brought this blind man who was begging Jesus to touch him. And that healing is then followed by the confession of Peter that Jesus, verse 29, is the Christ. So immediately before this prediction of his passion, we have the question he asks, Do you actually see what's going on here? He then heals a blind man who can't see anything that's going on there physically. Peter then makes a staggering statement concerning the identity of Jesus, which reveals the fact that God in heaven has opened his eyes to see something that he'd never noticed before.
And you don't have to be particularly astute to recognize that there is a line that is running through this. And it would seem so very straightforward that the healing of this man, at the behest of those who cared for him, provided not only a radical transformation in this man's circumstances, but it also provided a sign to his disciples. They were seeing but not actually seeing.
They were, if you like, like the man in the early part of the healing where he is asked, How are you seeing now? And he says, Well, I can see men as if they were trees walking. And Jesus says, Well, let me just clear that up a little more. And his eyes were opened, and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus is working with his disciples here, recognizing that just as he's led this man by the hand and brought him to a place of physical sight, so he is leading his disciples by the hand, and bringing them gradually to an understanding of who Jesus is and what he's done. And when you think in those terms, then you realize that Peter's confession here in verse 29 is a breakthrough moment.
Indeed, it is a pivotal moment in the story of the Gospels. You are the Christ, he says. Who are people saying I am?
What's the word on the street? Yes, I know that, he says. But who do you say I am? And then in this great moment of insight, Peter says, You are the Christ, you are the Messiah. Now, those of us who have been reading our Bibles for a while, we say, Oh yes, we know that part of the Bible. Nothing very striking about that.
But that's because we're not thinking. Peter was a Jewish boy, brought up in the orthodoxy of Judaism, reciting routinely the Shema, Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. The monotheism, the strict monotheism of his upbringing, was shattered by the expression out of his own lips, because he was saying something not only revolutionary about Jesus, but he was saying something revolutionary about the nature of God himself. You are the Christ, he says. You are the Messiah.
You are, in fact, God. Well, it's as dramatic a moment as was the previous moment when the blind beggar sees what's going on around him. But the drama of that confession by Peter is not followed then by a call on the part of Jesus to go out and tell everyone. We might have expected that he would have said, Excellent, Peter, now we're off to the races.
Now we can make a go of this. Why don't you get out, get your friends here, make sure that you're all on the one page, and go and tell the world what you've just professed to me. No, verse 30, Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. It's an interesting thing, isn't it?
I mean, it should be of interest. You are the Christ, a breakthrough, a spiritual perception, opportunity now to take this message out. And Jesus puts the brakes on, and he says, I don't want you to go out and say anything about this just now.
Why? Well, of course, if we read on as we've done in our reading, we know why. Because Peter's great confession is about to be followed by his ill-conceived rebuke. And Jesus knows that while Peter and the rest of them were in a new place in terms of their understanding of the identity of Jesus, he was going to have to teach them about the nature of the ministry of Jesus. If you like, they had made a breakthrough concerning who is he, but they still were not clear as to why he was saying what he was saying, and they certainly weren't clear about what it was he was planning on doing. And so you'll notice that Mark very carefully points out, he then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, that he must be killed, and after three days rise again. Now let's just look at the content of what Jesus is doing here.
It was then that he began to teach them. Now they have identified him as the Messiah of God. Now he says, let me explain to you what it means to be the Messiah of God, the Son of Man, must. The word here in Greek is a little word, dei, and what it's referencing here is a sense of necessity that is grounded in the will of God.
What does it mean? He must, the Son of Man must. It's not an unfamiliar phraseology. For example, in Luke's Gospel, when Luke records for us the arrival of Jesus with his family in Jerusalem and the family leave, he stays on, unbeknown to them. They then find him with the scribes and the teachers of the law in the temple precincts, and as they say to him, you know, Jesus, we've been looking everywhere for you, and we don't really understand why this has unfolded in this way. And then he says to them—and I have never forgotten it since I was brought up in the King James Version, and it rings so well in the King James Version—he says to Mary and to Joseph, wish ye not that I must be about my Father's business.
In Scots it would be, do you know, Ken, that it has to be this way? Well, they didn't. Indeed, Luke tells us that they did not understand what he was saying to them. How could they? Do you not know that I have to do this?
No, we don't. No surprise that we find Peter and his colleagues in the exact same boat. Because after all, look at what Jesus explains to them. He explains that the Son of Man must suffer many things. He picks up the Old Testament pictures of the suffering servant. For example, in Isaiah 52 and in verse 13—and I'll only ask you to turn to this one cross-reference this morning—Isaiah 52 and verse 13, it will be of help to you to see it. Isaiah 52 verse 13, See, my servant will act wisely, and he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted, just as there were many who were appalled at him.
His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness. So he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him, for what they were not told they will see, and what they have not heard they will understand. And then, of course, it leads into the more familiar words of Isaiah 53, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed, and so on, into that great Easter work that many of us enjoy when we go down to Severance Center. Now, he says, you need to understand that the Son of Man must suffer, must be rejected, must die, and must, after three days, rise again. Now, in verse 32, Mark then points out that Jesus spoke very plainly about this.
He spoke very plainly about this. He, on most occasions, spoke in parables. Earlier in his Gospel in Mark chapter 4, Mark says that he didn't say anything to them without using a parable—that is, to the crowd—but when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. He used the parables as a kind of filtration system. But when he was alone with the disciples, they got together and he said, now let me give this to you in ABC terms.
He'd done it again right here. Who do people say I am? You're the Christ.
Okay, don't go out and start saying anything. But now I want you to understand that the Son of Man must suffer at the hands of cruel men. He must be rejected.
He must die, and he must rise again. Now, here we are at our, I can't believe he did that moment. Here we are at our ill-conceived rebuke. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Well, what's wrong with Peter? Some of us are immediately up on our hind legs. The incipient Pharisee in us, the bright spark in us says, I can't believe, Peter, I just can't believe he would say something like that.
I honestly can't believe he would do anything like that at all. Haven't you heard yourself lately? Do you ever hear the thoughts of your minds when you're driving in the car?
When you're awake in the middle of the night? When you're wrestling with the implications of the identity and ministry of Christ? Now, his action can't be explained in terms of a lack of clarity, because Mark has made it clear that Jesus has spoken with absolute plainness. And indeed, it is the very plainness of the speech of Jesus which has given rise to the rebuke, albeit an ill-conceived rebuke, which Peter issues. Let's think about it from Peter's side of the fence for just a moment.
Think about from where Peter was standing. It's always easy to be clever if you've read the end of the story. I knew the end of the England versus Ireland rugby match last week, because I went online while we were watching it by delay on TV. I was in the company of two Scots, and I actually—it was Scotland versus Italy, I think. I've watched so many rugby games. But I was watching it, and I said to them, I think how this is going to go is it'll be tied up at halftime, and there'll be a couple more penalties in the second half, and then in the dying minutes, you know, we'll clinch the victory.
And of course, the whole game went through, and that's exactly what happened. And my brother-in-law said, you don't think for a minute that we believed you. We know that you knew the end.
You're not that bright. It's the same thing I get from my wife when I'm doing the crossword on Continental Airlines. It's really easy to do the crossword on page 94 if you keep your finger in page 96. She looks across at me mystified at the speed with which I'm filling in all these blanks. Actually, she's long since given up being mystified.
She always says, any fool can do the crossword the way you do it, because you read the answers and then you just fill in the blanks. Well, we have the benefit of seeing the end of the story. Peter didn't. So don't let's be too hard on Peter. He's clueless, having been given a clue, but he's no more clueless than we would have been.
Because now he's processed the information so far. Jesus is the Messiah. Then he says, Messiahs don't die. Messiahs don't get killed. So Jesus, if I could have a quiet word with you, I just wanted to say to you that what you've just said sounds all very well, but I don't think we should be going at it in that manner. The idea of a rejected Messiah didn't fit the picture.
You see, Peter, like the rest of the disciples, was struggling with these concepts. He and his colleagues, if you like, in the reading of the end of Isaiah 52, were clearly reading all of the plus side words. They were hearing the words raised, lifted, exalted, the kings will shut their mouths. They were missing, appalled, disfigured, marred, more than that of any man. In other words, they had a kind of selective listening, which in part they could be forgiven for, because their expectation of triumph and of victory and of the overthrow of oppression beat within their hearts for down through the centuries of their Jewish thinking. But for Jesus to stop in the middle of the proceedings and say, so far so good, but the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, die, and be raised again.
They didn't have categories with which to process this information. For example, the concept of the resurrection itself. If your Bible is open at chapter 9, you can look without turning to anything, but in verse 9, after the transfiguration, as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen. See, here we go again. Until the Son of Man had risen from the dead, and they kept the matter to themselves, discussing what, quote, rising from the dead meant. It's so good, isn't it?
It's so real. The idea that the Gospels were all put together by people three hundred years later, trying to make Jesus and themselves and everybody else look good, a fabrication of the minds of weird people. No, Mark has it here, warts and all. If this Gospel was an invention, he would have had, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Full stop, go to the next good part. But he doesn't. He has, you are the Messiah, and then he has, oh, I have to rebuke you, Jesus, for what you're saying. He has the Mount of Transfiguration, where they have this great encounter with God, but he also follows it by saying, and when they came down from the mountain, they all sat around saying to one another, what does rising from the dead mean? Incidentally, for those of you who are here and you don't believe in Jesus yet, when you believe He existed, otherwise you probably wouldn't be here, but you've never come to really lay your life down before Him. I want to encourage you, by the very activity of these disciples, by the way you see the unfolding drama, getting a glimpse and missing a part and coming back to it again, the great journey of faith seeking understanding, that faith is not in the disengagement of the thinking part, but the very thinking of things is a fundamental part of what it means to come to trust. Now, you see, Peter was totally unprepared for the radical nature of Jesus' teaching. Totally unprepared for the radical nature of Jesus' teaching. Totally unprepared for the radical nature of Jesus' teaching.
Doesn't sound so long ago and far away now, does it? Here we have a well-heeled, 21st-century congregation contemporaneously listening to the story from 2,000 years ago. We stand in the same place as Peter, and we know the end of the story. I suggest to you this morning that we are totally unprepared for the radical nature of Jesus' teaching. If we had a long time this morning, I could show you reasons why I believe that, but many of you won't need to be convinced because a bell goes off in your head saying, I think that's right. I think I am totally unprepared for the radical nature of Jesus' teaching. I think I am completely on the side of the pluses. I'm on the side of the triumph and the victory and the glory and the shut-the-mouths of kings.
I quite honestly don't like this stuff about disfigurement, suffering, rejection, taking it in the chin. Oh, we're just as unprepared, aren't we? It was going to become some time before Peter would reach the point where he is able to write to the scattered Christians of his day, Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. Then the penny had dropped. Post-Pentecost, he'd been there. He'd heard the story of the recounting of the message again after the resurrection of Jesus at the end of Luke chapter 24. But at this point, Peter sees the statement made by Jesus here, not in terms of a mission accomplished, but he sees it in terms of a mission defeated. The whole notion was inconceivable to Peter.
He didn't get the must. He didn't get the sense of divine necessity. This was a comprehension that was only there grounded in the will of God and made clear in the minds of those who would submit to that same will. It is possible that any of us could be guilty of selective listening when it comes to Jesus' radical teaching. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We will hear the conclusion of this message tomorrow. Now think about this for just a second. If the disciples who were learning directly from Jesus struggled to fully understand what he was teaching, it's no wonder that we need to study our Bibles every day.
The sooner we get started with that, the better. And if you have young children in your family or your friend group, if you teach a Sunday school class, you'll want to get a copy of the book, His Grace is Enough. This is a colorfully illustrated book for children that teaches that God gives grace and mercy even when we sin, and he continues to give grace and mercy even as we continue to sin. The book features winsome characters who make bad choices and learn that they can't make things right on their own.
They need the forgiveness that only God can offer by way of his grace. Young children will discover that you can't earn God's grace, but that God gives it freely when we ask. The book is titled His Grace is Enough.
Again, it's yours as you request it. When you give a donation to Truth for Life today, you can do that online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd prefer to mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at post office box 39-8000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. And just as a reminder, you can always purchase additional copies of the books we recommend. Go to our online store or give us a call. If you'd like to purchase additional copies of today's book, His Grace is Enough to hand out to your Sunday school class or to give to friends or family members who have small children, they're available at our cost of five dollars. Visit truthforlife.org slash store. I'm Bob Lapine.
We are so glad you've joined us today. The Apostle Peter was not alone in thinking that the Messiah would not suffer or be killed. So why was this part of Jesus' plan and what does it mean for us today? Listen tomorrow to find out. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-06 05:14:36 / 2023-02-06 05:23:37 / 9