Have you ever stopped to consider how our lives are filled with “pivotal” moments and circumstances? In our personal lives, in our faith lives, in our collective lives together there are moments and events that change the course of the rest of our lives. Scripture includes moments like that as well, and one of the most significant and important ones in the gospels is found in Mark chapter 8. That moment includes the question that drives our lives as followers of Jesus, and that gives us our “mission.”
1. Who Do You Say I Am? (Mark 8:27-29)
- Mark’s account of Jesus’ life and ministry prior to this point in chapter 8 is all about Jesus showing his power through miracles and teaching his followers about God’s Kingdom. Outside the walls of the pagan city of Caesarea Philippi, however, something changes – a pivotal, defining moment occurs.
- Jesus starts with a general, casual question for his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” Peter answers on behalf of the others, then Jesus asks the follow-up question that is the central, most pivotal question of the gospels (and of the Christian faith): “Who do you say I am?”
- Peter’s acknowledgement that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ – the King sent by God to save his people – changes everything. It changes the focus of Mark’s gospel from Jesus’ miracles and teachings to the crucifixion, but more importantly it becomes the single question that every human being must answer for themselves: “Who is Jesus?”
2. The Gospel: A Definitive ‘Must’ (Mark 8:31; Acts 1-8; James 1:27)
- So what does this “pivotal moment” in Mark’s gospel have to do with what we call “Missions” and our annual focus on it this month? It turns out that this question – and the moment in every believer’s life when they answer it correctly for themselves – is the foundation for our call to give and serve and love and go. Our belief that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” is the reason for everything we do in his name.
- A companion passage in Acts chapter 1 makes the connection for us explicitly. Right before the resurrected Jesus ascended back to heaven, he gave his disciples (and us) his last order, his “Great Commission” – to go to all parts of the world to show and tell people about who he is and how much he loves them. And he promised that the power of his Holy Spirit would enable us to do that.
- This power, and this commission, drives the work of New Hope Initiative in desperate places like the Kibera slum in Kenya – where God miraculously turned a tragedy driven by the cruelty of man into a beautiful story of renewal, rebuilding and rebirth.
- The transformative power of the gospel changes lives. It leads to eternal life with God, of course, but it also, beautifully, leads to a Full Life of giving, serving and loving others in the name of Jesus.
These passages may provide additional insights related to the subject of this week’s message. All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.
Isaiah 52:7-8; Matthew 16:13-17; Matthew 20:17-19; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; 1 John 4:7-21;
Video of the Week: Gospel of the Kingdom by the Bible Project
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- What’s one “transformative, pivotal moment” that you can recall from your life? How did your life change because of that moment?
- Read Mark 8:27-31 again. In what ways do you think this “pivotal moment” in their journey with Jesus changed things for the 12 disciples?
- After Peter proclaims the (right) answer to Jesus’ question in verse 29, verse 30 tells us that “Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.” Why do you suppose he would say that?
- Pastor Baird stated in the message that our answer to Jesus’ question (“Who do you say I am”) is the foundation for what we call Missions – for giving to, serving and loving others in his name. What’s the connection, in your view, between proclaiming Jesus as “the Messiah” and giving to the Missions Fund or going on a mission trip?
- We often talk about Missions as those efforts and partnerships that aim to “show and tell people about the love of Jesus.” Which of those do you think is more important – “showing” or “telling”?
- What is your “mission field”? In what specific ways do you feel called to “give to, serve and love” people “across the street and around the world” in the name of Messiah Jesus?