And Jesus went on with his disciples… And on the way he asked (them), “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. Mark 8:27-30
Why would Jesus tell his disciple Peter not to tell anyone that he is the Christ? I mean, if the disciples’ job was to spread word of the Messiah than staying silent doesn’t make sense.
Thankfully my confusion on this was cleared up by one of my husband’s recent sermons and today, as we celebrate Easter weekend, I want to share with you what I learned.
First, the passage continues with…
“And he (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mark 8:31-33
So now we see Peter rebuking Jesus! Can you imagine? But the reason behind his admonition is key to understanding why Jesus wants him silent.
You see, Peter thinks he is “good.” He does not see his need of rescuing and therefore doesn’t see why the Messiah had to die. But what Peter doesn’t get is that a messiah without the cross is no Messiah at all. And Peter’s sinful heart is in need of the sacrificial atonement of the Messiah, just as we all are, no matter how “good” we think we are.
His problem in thinking he is “good” is actually the problem of some others in this text: the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. The ones who were the respected religious teachers and moral leaders. The ones who ‘perfectly’ followed the law (on the outside at least). The Pharisees.
These same “good” men happen to be the ones who crucified Jesus!
Because of their “goodness” in following the law and upholding moral values, they didn’t see their need for rescuing. They were blind to their sinful pride and their internal sin put them in steep opposition to Jesus. They are the only ones in Scripture He condemns, whereas all other sinners He welcomes gladly!
Now if Peter’s problem was also not seeing his need for a Savior because of his goodness, could it be Jesus wanted to distance Himself from his own disciple? Could it be this is why Jesus told Peter to not tell anyone?
What I find most fascinating is the one who is “good,” in and of himself, is who Jesus’ doesn’t want witnessing about Him. Yet throughout the New Testament after Jesus has spoken to known sinners and outcasts they have gone off to proclaim His name and never once did He stop them! Those “bad” people knew their sin and need and in their own weakness found His grace amazing. And, He was never embarassed by them!
Jesus’ mission on earth was not simply to teach and to serve as an example to follow, but to rescue. But when we think we are good, we don’t see Him correctly nor our need of His rescue.
This Easter may we see how desperately we really need a Messiah who went to the cross AND rose again. He accomplished everything He came to do – which is to save those who know they need saving. And for those who know they are not good, He takes everything good about Himself and credits it to us!