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DTR: Define the Relationship



With greater commitment comes greater intimacy. In this message, Ben Stuart explores the moment in Mark where the disciples acknowledge who Jesus is. There comes a point in our journey with Jesus where we all must take steps to define the relationship. Following Jesus will cost us everything, but it’s always worth it.

Key Takeaway

Jesus shows us there there is a cost to following him, He was willing to give it all for us. However, the benefits of life with Jesus far outweigh any amount of suffering we face.

At this point in the Gospel of Mark, it's like the DTR. Mark is defining the relationship of who Jesus is for us. The book is split into two parts. The first part is asking who Jesus is, and Mark tells us right away that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but those around Him have to figure it out along the way. The second half is the book is asking, what is His quest? Why is he here?

Mark 8:27- Caesarea Philippi is the most northern point in Israel. It's as far away from Jerusalem, where Jesus will die, as you can get. He goes to a remote place to have this conversation with them. After this point, Jesus walks straight to the Cross. He initiates this conversation with His disciples by asking them who people say that He is. They respond by saying that He's like the great men in the past who have spoken for God, the top of the religious class, a really compelling guy. Similar to what the world says today about him, but Jesus presses them further: who do they say He is. Peter says He is the Messiah, the Anointed One. Anointing happened symbolically when you would pour oil over someone's head recognizing them as a special leader under God. King's and Priest's were anointed. Peter recognized Jesus as the center of the human story and wholly set apart. Jesus affirms this in Matthew 16 and Luke 9.

8:30- Caesarea Philippi was given to Herod's son Philip who named it to honor Caesar. On that day, to honor him, one would offer incense and say "Caesar is lord." Peter rightly says that Jesus is Lord and He tells them not to tell anyone. Why? Because they have the right identity, He's Lord, but the wrong activity.

8:31- Jesus is teaching the disciples something new, and He'll repeat it over and over in chapters 8, 9, and 10. His activity is that He will be rejected, and murdered, and then He will rise. Why bring it up now? Because with deeper commitment comes deeper intimacy. However, they violently reject what He says when He says the Son of Man must suffer. The Son of Man is a term referring to the Messiah. We see it in Daniel 7:13-14. This is the Jesus they knew, the King with all authority. So saying the Son of Man must suffer didn't make sense to them. In their minds, Jesus would hand out the suffering, not experience it. Notice that Jesus does just say He will suffer, but that He MUST suffer. In Greek, it's the word "dei" that means it's necessary. It's the language of divine design. We don't get justice without it.

Why? Because whenever a sin is committed a debt is incurred. Someone has to pay. Either you get what you deserve, which is no intimacy with God, or He will pay the debt for you and invite you to forever be with Him. What He gives is not cheap grace, Jesus gave everything, but He paid it for you and for me.

8:32- Peter does not like this and begins to rebuke Jesus. Jesus just turned around and rebuked Peter, but what was behind his statement?

8:33- To conceive of the way of God without suffering is Satanic according to Jesus. The way of glory leads along the path of suffering.

8:34- Jesus tells them plainly He is going to walk the path of suffering, if you're with Him you are going to have to deny yourself. You deny your impulses, your desires, and your comforts and take up your cross: rejection, shame, heavy cost. And then you follow Him. That's Jesus' sales pitch! Why would someone sign up for that? Because there is a cost, but the benefits are better.

8:35- Let go of this life so you can find life with Jesus. It's not just "better" it's life can actually be found. If you are so focused on controlling your own life, you're going to lose it. Jesus isn't being judgemental or controlling, He's trying to save your life. He is your source.

8:36-38- Notice how much Jesus centers Himself. He's not just a good moral teacher, life coach, or guru. He is Lord. How you respond to Jesus and His words determines your eternal destiny.

9:1- Jesus is not saying people won't die, He is not talking about culmination, but inauguration. A similar example happened when the angel told Zechariah that he was going to have a son named John and then proceeded to tell him all the things John was going to do. Zechariah didn't believe him, and an angel told him he wouldn't speak until this came to pass. What is "this"? Did he have to wait until it all happens before he can speak again? No! As soon as John is born, Zechariah starts praising God and can speak again. He just had to wait until the inauguration of this moment. See Luke 2:5-25, 57-80.

9:2-7- Jesus shows a few of them a glimpse of His majesty, and they don't know what to do with it, so they say a bunch of dumb things. God Almighty has to interrupt them. The Father says, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him." The road will lead to a cross, then to a grave, but then to an empty grave, then to a Kingdom that will never perish or fade. There is a cost, but the benefit is greater. If you associate with Him now, He'll associate with you later when this is all over. You accept the ring, He'll give you the honeymoon.

If you are still searching for truth, asking questions, and trying to figure Jesus out...keep going! We are happy to be with you on the journey, but at some point, you are going to have to decide who Jesus is to you.


"The Son of Man has shown up to pay your debt so you can be set free. It has to be that way. The solution for our God for our sin is a suffering Savior. Justice and love will meet on that Cross."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Mark 8:27-9:13
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.