Retelling the Promise of the Messiah
“Who do you say that I am?” asked Jesus.
You could hear the whispers and the not so much whispers. People had a lot to say about who they thought Jesus was. Gossip and philosophies and people trying to figure out this man were everywhere to be found at this point in Jesus’ life.
Some thought Jesus was John the baptist. They had similar messages. Similar lifestyles. John the baptist had been beheaded earlier in life, and maybe the spirit of John the baptist was the same as Jesus or maybe Jesus was just the continued embodiment of John the baptist. For these folks, Jesus was just another man sent by God.
Some speculated that Jesus was Elijah, come back from Heaven after having been carried off into the heavens by a chariot of fire. No one ever saw Elijah die so was he truly dead? How is it that Jesus seems to speak with the same authority and passion as Elijah. It wasn’t a far reach for the people to suspect that Jesus, Yeshua, was really just Elijah come back in the flesh to finish the work God had called him to.
Or maybe Jesus was one of the other prophets like Jeremiah. Jesus keeps talking about the temple being destroyed and then having the ability to build it back in three days. Jeremiah prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and how God would bring a Messiah to put everything back together.
There was a lot being said about who Jesus was but Jesus wanted to know what Peter thought.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
And Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.”
In a single word, Peter describes all that God had been up to and would be up to in the world. There was no way for Peter to know just how significant this word Messiah would be and how Jesus would fulfill so many old covenant prophesies through the fulfillment of the cross and resurrection.
The Prophet Jeremiah prophesies that Jerusalem would be destroyed.
Jesus was destroyed.
Jeremiah prophesies that Jerusalem would be exiled.
Jesus was exiled to Golgotha.
Jeremiah prophesies that Jerusalem would one day be restored.
And Jesus was restored.
Jeremiah prophesies a promise of a Messiah that would set things straight. Jesus is that Messiah that sets the world straight and makes all things new again.
Peter’s answer, you are the Messiah, it’s more than just words of Salvation. It’s words of Resurrection. It’s words that as we live out our own exile, dying to self, facing all the things that world sometimes throws at us, there will be a day that Jesus breathes new life into us because Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is salvation and resurrection.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Storyline Commentary on Jeremiah 33:14-18
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting Jeremiah writes these words in what scholars have often termed Jeremiah’s book of consolation (Jeremiah 30:1-33:26). They are words of restoration, words about reuniting the northern and southern kingdoms again. It was likely a year later that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and exiled her people to Babylon so it’s certainly some interesting timing. The timing points to the work of a resurrection God. Even though Jerusalem will be destroyed, God would bring resurrection and restoration to Israel through Jesus the Messiah. Of particular note is verse 18. Jesus would become the ultimate high priest, establishing the priesthood of believers, all of us in Jesus who have direct access to the Father because of the work Jesus has done.
As an aside, and maybe deeper reflection of these two passages, Jesus would suffer death and exile via the cross much like Jerusalem suffered death and exile via Babylon. It’s important to note, Jesus would defeat this and bring restoration into the world. I don’t think it’s coincidental that God would allow Jesus to suffer, more so than even Jerusalem suffered, to show God’s covenant keeping ability, even in the face of death of and destruction. his promise of the Messiah begins taking incredible shape when you begin comparing his life and death with the life and death of Jerusalem.
The Characters The prophet Jeremiah who has a message of destruction but hope. Jesus the Messiah.
The Tension “Who do you say that I am?” Who do we say that Jesus is? Who do we say is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy? Who is Jesus in light of an oppressive Roman kingdom the Jews fall subservient to?
The Resolution Jesus is the Messiah and that single word probably encapsulates more meaning in than we’ll ever be able to recognize. Jesus as priest. Jesus as king. Jesus as restoration. Jesus as resurrection.
The Through Line God is covenant-keeper and it’s not based on our understanding and perception of reality. There are times in life it’s going to be impossible to understand that God is truly keeping his covenant(s) with people, but in a long arch of history, God as the God of resurrection continually shows up, bringing restoration and hope.
Why has this story endured? There’s still a lot of thought about who Jesus is in the world today. A great teacher. A very spiritual man. Someone whose existence impacted the world. A crazy man. But at the end of the day, the same question still rings true: “Who do you say that Jesus is?”
How does this story help us love God? Jesus has a personal interest in us. That doesn’t seem like a god thing to do with what the world tells us about power. But Jesus, who is infinite power is interested us because he loves us.
How does this story help us love others? There are others out there asking this same que
stion. Who really is Jesus? The way we live our lives and the way we talk about Jesus can help lead others into discovering the true way of life. Helping others discover life is one of the most loving things you can do.
Reflections based on Jeremiah 33:14-18; Mark 8:27-29