This text follows immediately on the heels of the Mount of Transfiguration. Vs. 14-15 provide the introduction to this text. We observe a great multitude gathered in the region of Caesarea Philippi, presumably at the base of Mt. Hermon. Remember, the inner circle of Christ’s disciples had just observed Christ’s transfiguration, which represented his future glory and their own as well. All of the disciples are thinking more and more clearly about the divine person of Christ. But the truth about Christ has not yet completely overwhelmed their lives. They are considering these truths, but not completely engulfed by them. We might say that these disciples are like little kids learning how to swim or ride a bike- after a person can do these things it is no big deal, but the process of learning is itself a tremendous struggle. So in this text, the disciples are venturing out now without “floaties” or “training wheels;” and as they are not very mature in faith, they predictably fail.
As we begin our study, please note that this is a crisis point in which so many professing Christians quit on God. They say, “Living the deep Christian life is too hard, too much effort, too much thinking, not enough immediate spiritual gratification, so therefore I quit! I will not go all the way with God. I might dabble a little bit in my relationship with God, a little Bible, a little church, a little token Christianity; but true discipleship requires too much of me. It is too easy to fail.” In these last few chapters of Mark, Jesus has been exhorting us to go all the way with God. There may be suffering along the way; but the reward of the journey is far greater than the pain of it, and the joy, fulfillment, and glory along the way are so wonderful as to cause us to forget the sacrifice.
Our text is divided up evenly into six sayings of Jesus, which we will consider in order.