When it comes to decisions and convictions the state of the contemporary mind may be less inclined to critical thinking and problem solving today than ever before. Studies reveal that thinking through issues for yourself is rare in college classrooms. Clearinghouse on Higher Education (1995) documented the following disturbing patterns: “Faculty aspire to develop students’ thinking skills, but research consistently shows that in practice we tend to aim at facts and concepts in the disciplines, at the lowest cognitive levels, rather than development of intellect or values.” Too little thinking on matters, not enough conceptualizing, and acceptance of public opinion is not uncommon these days. Why is this a concern? Because critical thinking is necessary to effectively solve problems. By stepping back and weighing out the evidence, evaluating the situation and standing for what you believe is right, without being unjustly swayed by others is needful to veer clear from simply accepting conclusions mostly by default, because of a lack of personal understanding. Too often individuals accede to the popular stand of others in forming their understanding. That is no more evident then when people are asked about the identity of Jesus. A June 2002 Gallup survey reveals that 80% of U.S. adults consider themselves to be part of the Christian tradition. However, further insight into their profession find that very few actually follow Christ, they only give lip service. Many churches today are inundated with nominal Christianity. These same people know next to nothing about true holiness and Biblical Authority in their lives. Theirs is not the Christianity the Bible depicts. When asked about following Jesus and believing that the Bible is the literal Word of God accurate in every detail, their response was much less positive. We can toss many statistics about to demonstrate the falsehood of those professing to follow Christ, but most anyone with a basic knowledge of the Bible would seriously question whether these nominals who see themselves on the same “team” as convictional Christians, could legitimately be called Christians. The question is this for you today. Who do you believe Jesus is?
The question was before Peter (Mark 8:27-30). He could have chosen from several options to answer Jesus. At that time, popular opinion had Jesus as either John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet. These were preparatory figures for the on-going purpose of God, whose appearances in history were forerunners paving the way for Messiah, whose entry would be announced to be the Son of God spoken about in the Old Testament by these and others. So what should Peter answer Jesus? Should he go by the numbers and accept the prevailing attitude of religious leaders, King Herod, and the common man of Palestine that thought Jesus was someone other than what He claimed to be? At that time too, in the Roman world Caesar was considered divine. How would you react considering the many circulating views about Jesus?
Afterwards, Jesus taught that faith in Him meant that His mission involves suffering, so too would His followers suffer since acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God would require them to share in His afflictions. This is not the Christianity so often popularized in our Churches today, is it? In today’s religious market we are offered better health, and prosperous living, where our “felt needs” are met, and good people meet together. Yet, Jesus speaks of bearing one’s cross, so what do you think about Jesus now? Is He the Christ and are your ready to follow Him, or not? Jesus is calling His disciples to make a not-so-easy decision when you consider that a confession of faith in Him meant a life of suffering. Are you clear enough in your thinking to accept Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God? What will you do at this very time in your life? The apostles had no anticipatory signal from Christ about His intention to call them to a decision. He did, however, make it easier for them to accept His claim to deity. Behind His claim of being the long sought after Messiah, He had provided many supportive proofs. Countless miracles, prodigious teachings, even God’s own words both at Jesus baptism and later at His transfiguration which attested to the fact that Jesus is God’s divine Son.
I hope you will answer the question for yourself regarding the identity of Christ and arrive at the same conclusion that the apostles did, and that you will seek out a Church this Sunday that teaches what it really means to be a follower of Christ.
And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Mark 8:29