Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
This weeks set lectionary reading is interesting for what is NOT included. We skip the beginning of chapter 8 which is ANOTHER account of Jesus miraculously feeding a crowd of people. 4000 this time. Some teachers look at the 2 accounts in Mark, and the other gospels, and look at the differences between them noting the details of the number of people and type of food distributed. While this builds a case for 2 separate events I think it misses the point of having 2 difference stories recorded. One “feeding miracle” is for Jews and the other is for Greeks.
Mark is revisiting the radical point of Jesus’s ministry in the he serves both Jew and Gentile. The kingdom of God is breaking out of its old categories and is engaging ALL people. Even when they don’t have the “right” background to fully appreciate what is happening.
His question to his disciples of “Who do people say that I am?” needs to be understood in that context. When he leans in further and asks… “But who do you say that I am?” He is asking them to choose a new way of understanding how God works and who God works with.
Who is Jesus anyway?