Seeing Who Jesus Really Is
In Mark 8, Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. The meaning of this warning may be as cryptic to us as it was to Jesus’ disciples. Herod and the Pharisees, after all, didn’t have very much in common. The former was a pagan hedonist and the latter a group of hyper-religious zealots. But both of them demonstrate, from their actions and attitudes, that they’re both intent on not seeing who Jesus really is. Jesus’ warning to his disciples, might seem strange because they aren’t hostile towards Jesus. But, like Jesus’ adversaries, they are ignorant of Jesus’ identity and mission.
In two of the stories that come before, the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand, Jesus’s actions serve as a sign. He gives bread to the multitude in the wilderness (just like God did in Exodus). He feeds Jews, and he feeds Gentiles. Taken together the two miracles for a message that Jesus is God, present with us, and that his sacrificial love fulfills the hopes and needs of Jews and Gentiles alike. But Jesus’ enemies and friends alike don’t see it because of hostility (enemies) or complacency (friends).
Seeing Who Jesus Really Is in Our Own Time and Place
In our own culture, we observe similar dynamics. Our secularized culture doesn’t recognize Jesus. In the church, while we say we follow Jesus, we treat him like someone who is supposed to enhance my life, rather than someone who is supposed to rule over it. We all prize our freedom, the ability to do as we please. So to accept Jesus as Lord threatens our most intensely guarded value. But Jesus is calling us to a different way of seeing freedom, not as freedom from accountability, but as freedom for flourishing. He wants us to be free from the powers of sin and death. He wants us to be free to live in life-giving relationships with him, others and creation.
Questions for Reflection
- Have you tried getting into discussions about faith with people who didn’t want to listen, but just to argue? How did it make you feel?
- Who is Jesus and what is he doing (his identity and mission) how might different understandings of this affect how we live out our faith?
- How does Jesus’ understanding of freedom differ from a modern understanding? How does pursuing Jesus’ freedom different than pursuing freedom the way our culture understands it?
Other Sermons In This Series