Our God is patient. Incredibly patient. Our God is compassionate. Amazingly compassionate.
Mark 8 is a colorful, emotional commentary – it is a window into Jesus’ and the Twelve’s life together. Much time in the text is dedicated to conveying the lack of understanding – or perhaps doubt – of the disciples. Although the Twelve had witnessed an abundance of miracles, they struggled to comprehend the true identity and mission of Jesus. This comes through clearly in Jesus’ appeal to the disciples in Mark 8:21:
“Don’t you understand yet?”
Of course, Jesus knew they did not yet understand. For me, painfully transparent passages like this demonstrate the veracity and authenticity of the Scriptures. At best, the disciples come across as memory-challenged companions unable to grasp the enormity of what is happening before their very eyes. These were relatable, common men, experiencing extraordinary times.
What would I have thought, had I lived at that time? It is enjoyable to read this chapter “expressively” to emphasize the density of the disciples and the exasperation of Jesus. However, I’m not sure that such an expressive interpretation is appropriate in the circumstances. Would any of us have been more perceptive than the disciples at that time? I seriously doubt it!
Jesus patiently waited on His disciples to understand Him. He knew they needed more time with Him. Their comprehension of the meaning of the “Messiah” was immature. Simply put, they needed to know Jesus better. I wonder how often Jesus is waiting on me to just “come on” and know Him better. I’m guessing the answer is “always” – that’s how often He is waiting on me.
When Jesus knew the time was finally right, He engaged the disciples in one of the most powerful exchanges in Scripture (Mark 8:27-29):
27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”
29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
The emphasis on “YOU” in Mark 8:29 is unmistakable. Jesus is directly asking a very, very personal question. The answer could change everything for the disciples – and it did. Peter, as spokesman for the disciples said (v.29), “You are the Messiah.” Yes! They finally got it!
What is your answer to Jesus’ question, “But who do you say I am?” Jesus, full of compassion, is waiting patiently for your answer.