Mark 8:27-30; Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-20 – Yeshua’s Disciples Confess Him to be the Messiah

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POSTED 04 NOVEMBER, 2017

“Yeshua went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ They told Him, saying, ‘John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.’ And He continued by questioning them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And He warned them to tell no one about Him” (Mark 8:27-30).

“Now when Yeshua came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Yeshua said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My [assembly]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’ Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Messiah” (Matthew 16:13-20).

“And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.’ And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said, ‘The Messiah of God’” (Luke 9:18-20).

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I

In this narrative, the Disciples of Yeshua had apparently not just witnessed their Master enough—but also the responses of the people who had encountered Him, His teachings, and His miracles—to be asked the question by the Lord, “Who are people saying I am?” (Mark 8:27, CJB/CJSB) or “Who are the crowds saying I am?” (Luke 9:18, CJB/CJSB). The dialogue recorded in Matthew 16:13 actually invokes the titular “Son of Man” reference to Yeshua, which is taken from Daniel 7:9-14: “Who are people saying the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13, CJB/CJSB). The response of the Disciples to Yeshua is that the crowds who had encountered Him were saying that He was probably any one of the Prophets or significant spiritual leaders who had been seen in Israel’s past history, or that He was John the Immerser/Baptist (Mark 8:28; Matthew 16:14; Luke 9:19).

After stating what the people or crowds had been saying of Him, Yeshua then asks His Disciples: “But you…who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29, CJB/CJSB; also Matthew 16:15; Luke 16:20). The response of Peter to Yeshua was, “You are the Messiah[1]” (Mark 8:29, NRSV); “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God[2]” (Matthew 16:16, NRSV); “The Messiah of God[3]” (Luke 9:20, NRSV). In Matthew’s record, Yeshua details to Peter how the Heavenly Father has revealed this truth to him (Matthew 16:17), and how on Himself some significant Kingdom activity will take place regarding the ekklēsia (Matthew 16:18).[4] Yeshua also directed His Disciples that it was not yet time for people to publicly know Him to be the Messiah (Mark 8:30; Matthew 16:20; Luke 16:21).

Yeshua did tell Peter “on/upon this rock” (Matthew 16:18), what the source text has as epi tautē tē petra, activity would take place. Those in Roman Catholicism have interpreted this as meaning that from the Apostle Peter to the present have passed a steady line of papal successors. Protestants have rejected this view, with many concluding that “this rock” spoken of is instead the Messiah, who would grant spiritual authority to those like Peter and the Apostles. If Yeshua is indeed to be considered “the rock,” then the fact that God is often referred to as “rock” in Tanach or Old Testament, is something important to factor in. As seen in David’s prayer of 2 Samuel 22:3:

“My God, my rock [Elohei tzuri], in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3).

TWOT summarizes various uses and associations of the Hebrew tzur or “rock,” the Greek equivalent being petra, and how it is frequently related to God:

“Yahweh himself is many times called a Rock; 1Sam 2:2 says, ‘There is no rock like our God.’ Yahweh is a Rock, not in being represented as an idol carved from stone, but in that he is totally reliable. He is a sure source of strength and he endures throughout every generation. There is no unrighteousness found in him; he is completely upright (Deut 32:4; Psa 92:15 [H 16]). God is a Rock of salvation (Deut 32:15; Psa 89:26 [H 27]). He is a strong refuge in which his people may take shelter from any difficulty (cf. Psa 94:22). In distress the psalmists cry out to Yahweh so that they may experience the security of his steadfast endurance (Psa 27:5; Psa 28:1). ṣûr thus appears in theophoric names: Zuriel (Num 3:35, ‘my Rock is El’); Zurishaddai (Num 1:6, ‘my Rock is Shaddai’). The man who relies on God as his Rock will not be greatly moved (Psa 62:2, 6 , 7 [H 3,7,8]). When Israel strays, Isaiah exhorts them to ‘look to the Rock from which you were hewn’ (Isa 51:1). Perhaps he is alluding to Deut 32:4. Yahweh gave birth to Israel through Abraham’s faith in him. Isaiah encourages the people to trust in Yahweh; as a result they shall have perfect peace (Isa 26:4ff). The quality of strength connoted by ‘rock’ applies not only to defense but also to aggressive leadership in battle (Psa 18:3 [H 32-49]; Psa 144:1). The quality of authentic endurance assures Habakkuk that Yahweh will bring the wicked to judgment (Hab 1:12). Yahweh’s ability to protect and to help his people as a Rock sets him apart as the only true Rock (2Sam 22:32; Isa 44:8).”[5]

If “this rock” in Matthew 16:18 is a reference to Yeshua, as many conclude, then it can be taken as supporting or ancillary evidence in favor of Yeshua’s Divinity, as the LORD or YHWH is frequently associated to be “the rock” in the Tanach or Old Testament. More critically to the record, of Mark 8:27-30; Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-20, is how the Disciples’ response to their Teacher’s question, was an affirmation of His Messiahship. Yeshua’s Disciples concluded that He was the Messiah, while the crowds at large were mostly thinking that Yeshua was one of the Prophets or John the Immerser/Baptist.

Theological examiners in the Twentieth and now Twenty-First Centuries take for granted the Messiahship of Yeshua, as they have been often raised in a Christian environment where Jesus was already affirmed to be the Messiah. For many First Century Jews who encountered Yeshua—hearing His parables and teachings, witnessing His miracles—they were often at a conundrum of what to think of Him. Was this Yeshua just another prophet? The Disciples’ declaration that this Yeshua was the Messiah was most imperative, as it indicated their own association with and commitment to the Messianic mission as foretold in the Tanach. Enough investigation and reasoning had been conducted for the Disciples to recognize that Yeshua was more than just some interesting teacher, or even anointed prophet.

While Yeshua is declared to be the Messiah by His Disciples, there was no doubt more investigation and reasoning to take place, especially in terms of what it mean for Him to be “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). And indeed, the point should be well taken that in order to consider any sort of supernatural origins for the Messiah, He must first be recognized as more than just a good teacher or an anointed prophet. Subsequent to recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, then can it best be recognized how His origins are from eternity (cf. Micah 5:2).


NOTES

[1] Grk. su ei ho Christos; “You are the Mashiach” (Mark 8:29, CJB/CJSB).

[2] Grk. su ei ho Christos ho huios tou Theou tou zōntos; “You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16, CJB/CJSB).

[3] Grk. ton Christon tou Theou; “The Mashiach of God!” (Luke 9:20, CJB/CJSB).

[4] Consult the entry for Matthew 16:18-19 in the author’s publication Are Non-Jewish Believers Really a Part of Israel?, for technical details on its connection to passages such as 2 Samuel 7:27; 1 Kings 11:38; Psalm 89:4; and most especially Jeremiah 31:4; 33:7, involving the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom.

[5] John E. Hartley, “tz-v-r,” in TWOT, 2:762.