27 Jesus and his followers went to the towns around Caesarea Philippi. While they were traveling, Jesus asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and others say you are one of the prophets.” 29 Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus warned his followers not to tell anyone who he was. ~ Mark 8:27-30
Today's passage provides us with the turning point in Mark’s gospel. There are two overall themes in the Gospel according to Mark: From Mark 1:1-Mark 8:26 we see the Servant who Rules, and, from Mark 8:27-Mark 16:16 we see the Ruler who Serves. Three times in the Gospel of Mark, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples He is going to Jerusalem to be killed and to rise from the dead. Right on the heels of today's passage, the Lord Jesus gave the first of these three predictions.
In v.27-29 of today's passage we read, "27 Jesus and his followers went to the towns around Caesarea Philippi. While they were traveling, Jesus asked them, 'Who do people say I am?' 28 They answered, 'Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and others say you are one of the prophets.' 29 Then Jesus asked, 'But who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'You are the Christ.'"
The Lord Jesus and His disciples traveled through the area of Caesarea Philippi where there were fourteen temples to different false gods. Not only to Caesar, but to Baal the Old Testament deity, Baal worship, and temples to another god called Pan, the false god in Greek mythology, half man, half goat, who played a little flute called a pan flute.
The setting was provided and the Lord Jesus deliberately took His disciples to that place which had false worship of other gods in order to draw the contrast between the false gods and the one true God. It was in that context that the Lord Jesus asked the disciples two questions: one about the people’s view of Him, the other about the their view of Him.
The view of the multitude of the Lord Jesus had not changed during the previous two years. They had come to believe the Lord Jesus to be one of the great Hebrew prophets. This indicates that they held Him in very high regard, for these were the great names of Israel. However, never once is it recorded that the populace had even the slightest inkling that the Lord Jesus was their Messiah. They held Him in very high regard, but they never thought of Him as their Messiah.
On the other hand, Peter himself replied with the descriptive word "Christ" to describe the Lord Jesus. "Christ" is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah which literally means "to smear." The idea was to be smeared with oil. Throughout the Scriptures, oil is analogous of the Holy Spirit. It was at His baptism by John the Baptist the Lord Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Messiah literally means "the smeared one" or "the anointed one." In the Old Testament there were three groups of people who were smeared with oil: the prophets, the priests, and the kings. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all of these offices.
In addition, based on the route the Lord Jesus was taking, it is evident He was on His way to Mount Hermon. He did this deliberately because He knew that the Transfiguration would take place on that high mountain.
In v.30 of today's passage we read, "Jesus warned his followers not to tell anyone who he was."
The Lord Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone about His identity, but, later He will reverse this and say, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." But right then He didn't want there to develop some kind of a rebellion, and, have Rome come in and disrupt the plan. If the disciples had spread the word that He was the promised Messiah, with their incomplete understanding, they would have created an incomplete reaction among the people, one based upon incomplete knowledge.
In response to Peter's description of the Lord Jesus, according to Matthew 16, the Lord Jesus said to Peter, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you."
We believe in the Lord Jesus in response to the enablement of the God of the Bible who, in contrast to the gods of this world's religions, is a personal being who desires a personal relationship with us. When we see and hear revelation, we see and hear from God Himself. In order to know God, we must seek Him in His way.
Many have tried to gain knowledge of God through their unaided reason, or through some kind of subjective intuition. But the God of the Bible has told us not only who He is but also how we should seek knowledge of Him. That knowledge comes as we look through His created world to discover Him. In addition, God has given us His special revelation through the coming of His Son and through His word, the Bible. It is only through these appointed means can we come to know God as our Savior and friend.