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 Can You See Yet?

Mark 8:27-33

Message #29

It might seem like we have to go a long way back to catch up from our last message in Mark. It was only a month ago, but it seems much longer. It’s June 2020, and we’ve been watching our culture try to destroy itself from within for a month. But, it’s actually a great time to get back to the Gospel of Mark because our text today is perfect for the current civil war climate of our culture.

You’ve heard me say Mark likes to make his points in trilogies of messages (three messages with one point), and as we return to Mark today, we return to the third message in a critical trilogy of messages. This trilogy goes like this: You CAN’T See – message 1; You will see in STAGES – message 2; Can You See Yet? – message 3.

Our first message in this trilogy was, Do You Understand Yet? (That was our “You Can’t See” message). Our second message was Seeing in Stages,” and this is the third message in the trilogy “Can You See Yet?

And here is Mark’s point as I see it in the text. First, we recognize – We can’t see. That’s where healing begins when you recognize you’re blind, and you recognize you can’t see the things of the Lord. Next, understand – We will see in stages. God begins to take the scales from our eyes. That’s what happened to the Disciples, and maybe that’s what has happened to you. Finally, we have to continually ask ourselves – Can we see yet?

Two messages ago in Mark, Jesus proved that his Disciples couldn’t see the true “spiritual side” of things (in the beginning of Mark 8). He feeds the 4,000 again, there was the boat ride, and the Pharisees, and the “no bread” and you can go back and read it. And at the end of that section, Jesus says to his Disciples, “Don’t you understand, yet?” What is wrong with you? They are almost three years into daily walking with Jesus, and he, in a seemingly frustrated tone, says to them, “Don’t you get it yet?”

Then, in our last message, Jesus healed a blind man in stages (in the middle of Mark 8). And that occurred in Bethsaida, on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is teaching the Disciples by example.

And so, as we catch up with Jesus and the Disciples today, they are leaving Bethsaida for a twenty-five-mile walk to one of our favorite places in Northern Israel. We’ll start in Mark 8:27.

Mark 8:27 (NLT)
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?”

Prior to today, the Disciples had plenty of opportunities to see WHO Jesus truly was. But they either saw things incorrectly, or they weren’t even paying attention at all.

In Mark Chapter 4, when Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Disciple’s response was, “Who is this? That even the wind and the waves obey him?” and I want to say to the Disciples, “Okay, guys, let me help you. WHO COULD this possibly be, who calms the wind and the waves with a word? Think hard now.”

But the time of waiting for the Disciples to decide that two plus two does equal four had come to an end. This event today was a critical turning point in the life and ministry of Jesus. When this event at Caesarea Philippi (today) is finished, Jesus would set his face firmly toward Jerusalem. From this event onward, Jesus would be moving with steadfast determination toward the cross. And so, it was high time for the Disciples to begin to see things clearly.

And so, as they are walking through what is now the Golan Heights, the “eye exam” begins (in order to see if they can see yet). And as a lead-in, (or as a set up) Jesus asks the Disciples, WHO do people SAY that I AM? (end of verse 27).

The more you get to know the Disciples (there’s a great book out there called Twelve Ordinary Men, about it), the more you think, “Oh yeah, God can definitely use me.”

And their response is in Mark 8:28.

Mark 8:28 (NLT)
28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”

These are strange answers, aren’t they? The answers all are referring to the heroes of God coming back to life. They are all dead. But today’s point is, the people had every possible opinion except the right one.

And have things changed that much in 2,000 years – really? Don’t we see basically the same thing today? Most of our culture has an opinion of WHO Jesus Christ is, just as it was on the day when Jesus asked his Disciples this question.

Let me give you “good news / bad news.” The last survey Barna Research did on American’s faith, 86 percent of those surveyed in America, believed in Jesus Christ. It may not look like it. If you do happen to glance at the news and you question that percentage and say, “What’s the problem then?” Here’s the problem. When you continue on in the Barna survey, you see what they believe about Jesus. And a certain percentage believes he was a good teacher; a certain percentage believes he was a made-up character in order to establish religion; some people think he was Buddha’s skinnier brother – they think all these different things. And you go down the list, and you think, “Wow, that’s why we’re so messed up!” Because everybody has their own opinion about who Jesus Christ is. And so, we have every opinion out there except – the right one.

And that’s exactly what this is in the first century that the Disciples were dealing with.

In fact, just this past week, those who are committed to burning the system of our nation down informed us of two new opinions about Jesus and who he is.

#1) He was white (not Jewish) – which is new.
#2) He is a symbol of white supremacy and racism.

And so, all statues of Jesus must be torn down, which will logically be followed by all churches bearing his name, being burned down, along with our “system.”

But Jesus is not John the Baptist (as verse 28 says), and Jesus is not Elijah, and he is not one of the prophets. And Jesus is not white, and he is not a symbol of white supremacy or racism. All that is wrong, but all those opinions are out there.

These are all opinions of people who cannot see, and we pray ultimately, they will be able to see WHO Jesus Christ truly IS.

But for now, in our text, Jesus is still trying to get the twelve guys who’ve been with him for almost three years to see WHO he truly is. And so, he asks very directly in Mark 8:29,

Mark 8:29 (NLT)
29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” . . .

The emphasis here is on the “you.” Jesus is saying, “Listen, I know it’s crazy out there. I know there are a hundred opinions about who I am, but none of that matters right now. The only thing that matters is, who do YOU say that I am.

And there was most likely a pause as the Disciples raced mentally through all they had witnessed with their own eyes, and the air might’ve been heavy for a moment. But we can always count on Peter to jump out there and be the first to answer, and he does answer at the end of verse 29.

Mark 8:29(b) (NLT)
29 . . . Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

This is an incredible, watershed moment – this is it! Peter replies, You ARE the Messiah. In Hebrew, “the Anointed One come from God,” and Christ (in Greek) means the same thing, “the Anointed One come from God – to save.”

The One that all the prophets had foretold. The One promised to come in the lineage of King David. The One who would sit on the Throne of Israel and establish the perfect reign of God. Peter says – You ARE the Messiah. That is who you are!

Once you make the decision, once and for all, in your heart who you say Jesus is, every other decision comes from that decision. Once you’re clear on who he is and who he is in your life, then all your other decisions spiritually, logically follow that.

And in Matthew’s account in Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus responds to Peter’s declaration.

Matthew 16:17 (NLT)
17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

Let me paraphrase this. Jesus says, Peter, the media has not taught you this. Social media has not taught you this. My Father in heaven revealed this truth to you.

Doesn’t that make us want to turn away from social media influencers? Doesn’t that make us want to turn away from political influencers? And instead, turn to God’s Word and say, “Lord, show me, in your Word, your truth.” And I purposely say turn to God’s Word to know God’s truth because God will not contradict his Word with a new revelation to you. Which means God will not reveal to you that Jesus was a white racist, and you should tear down all his statues. That was not God; that was someone else.

So, Jesus tells Peter (Matthew 16:17) that God revealed the truth of WHO Jesus IS to him. But does that mean Peter (and the Disciples) could see it all – NOW? Could they see God’s full perspective? Could they see God’s full timing? Could they see God’s only way to salvation? They were getting the WHO! But how close were they on the HOW?

If you’ll embrace this, it will lead you into a place of peace and trust and confidence in the sovereignty of God in the midst of the craziness that’s in our world right now.

There were two political zealots in the group: Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, and they certainly didn’t have God’s perspective or know God’s timing or know God’s only way to bring salvation.

But still, the excitement rose in the Disciples, and more of the story is told in Matthew 16, and it is awesome – you should read it.

But our focus today in Mark is on this one thing. Can you see yet? Can you see God’s perspective? Can you see God’s timing? Can you see God’s way?

And remember, from this day, Jesus is steadfastly set on moving toward the cross. And so, because he was in control of the timing and the plan, Jesus warns the Disciples to keep this to themselves.

Mark 8:30 (NLT)
30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

And then Jesus began to break it down to the Disciples. It was time they heard the straight truth. He had told them before, but they were seeing in stages, and this seems to be the first time that the final stage started becoming clear to them.

The victory that Jesus came to bring would be accomplished through a terrible and suffering death, followed by a resurrection from the dead.

Mark 8:31 (NLT)
31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.

I pray today that you would believe and receive the truth that Jesus IS the Messiah (your Savior). But if you have, does it automatically mean that now you see God’s perspective? Or that now you see God’s timing? That you now see God’s plan?

If Jesus were to begin to really reveal the entire picture to you, is there a chance you would react in a similar way to how Peter reacts in Mark 8:32.

Mark 8:32 (NLT)
32 As he (Jesus) talked about this
(his death and resurrection) openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
As Jesus begins to lay out the details of exactly what was going to happen, Peter “takes him aside” and begins to reprimand Jesus. And the language here is like a parent reprimanding a child. “Now Jesus, I won’t have you talking that way, you need to shape up and watch what you say around here.”

And now, if you know this story, you’re already thinking, “here comes the good part.” But – we have to apply this to our lives.

The Disciples think they see it now. The Disciples think they’ve got it now. Jesus is the Messiah! “Okay, we got it. Let’s get on with overthrowing Rome and setting things up like we see them in our mind.”

How often do we think we see it now? How often do we think we’ve got it now? But really, we’re just assuming that Jesus is going to do things the way we see it in our minds. And we may even (in our heart) reprimand Jesus a little bit if we see him veering off our path?

So, Peter thinks he’s doing good, giving Jesus a little fatherly reprimand because Jesus was getting “off track” a little, and suddenly Jesus pulls away from Peter.

Mark 8:33 (NLT)
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said . . .

Peter had become a carrier of the devil’s virus, and that’s worse than the Covid virus. Peter was speaking to Jesus the same way the devil spoke to Jesus in the wilderness, at The Temptation when Satan tempted Jesus to short cut the Father’s plan and avoid the cross.

Peter had just received the single biggest revelation from God that there is (Jesus is the Messiah). How in the world is he now joining Satan in hell’s attempt to derail God’s plan? Here’s how in the remainder of verse 33 (be very afraid).

Mark 8:33(b) (NLT)
33 . . . “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

That’s it? Just seeing things from a human point of view causes Peter to jump on Satan’s bandwagon??? Yeah – that’s it! What does that mean for you and I when we try to press God into our human-view box? It actually might mean that same thing, right?

What’s my point today? We are wrapping up today a critical three-message truth.

#1) There’s a time when you can’t see
You’ve been blinded by your sin, the world, and your flesh.

#2) There’s a time when you see in stages
As the scales begin to fall from your eyes and the Lord begins to reveal his truth to you.

#3) You’ve got to always ask – Can I see yet?
If we see that Jesus is the Messiah (the Savior), that’s the big thing. But – can we really see God’s perspective yet? Can we really see God’s timing yet? Can we really see God’s plan yet?

Let’s trust the sovereignty of God. Let’s trust God’s plan. Let’s trust God’s timing. And let’s trust our Messiah – our Savior – and our Soon and Coming King.

Let’s trust him, and let’s understand that we will never see fully until we see him face-to-face.