Mark 8 is a major turning point in the gospel's narrative. For the bulk of 8 chapters, Mark works to establish the identity of Jesus. Who, exactly, is this man who so many seem to love and yet so many seem to despise?
Finally, in Mark 8:27 and following, Mark shares a conversation Jesus had with His disciple's about His real identity.
27 Jesus went out with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They answered Him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”
Apparently, the general consensus of the day was that Jesus was some type of forerunner to the Messiah, but not the Messiah. John the Baptist, Elijah or some other prophet: take your pick, but all were meant to come before the Messiah, not be the Messiah.
But Jesus did not ask this question because He cared about public opinion. He sought to open the eyes of His disciples to His true identity.
29 “But you,” He asked them again, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah!” 30 And He strictly warned them to tell no one about Him.
The disciples were right, so why would Jesus not want His disciples to share the exciting news?
The answer lies in that while Peter's answer was accurate, it was also inadequate.
Peter had the right word, but he didn't have the proper understanding of that word.
To Peter, the Messiah was a political and military leader who would lead the Jews in a revolution against Rome. Though there is ample biblical evidence the Messiah not be that, the prevailing view of the day was Peter's.
The people wanted someone who could make Israel great again.
The people were angry at Rome and wanted a leader to shake things up.
The people wanted someone who could help them save their country first (they would worry about souls later).
Jesus didn't want this false understanding of Him out there, so he explained to Peter and the disciples just what being Messiah meant.
31 Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.
Peter's Messianic expectations for Jesus were so contrary to these that Peter pulled Jesus aside and told him to hush his mouth, but Jesus would have none of it. He was committed to being the Messiah the world needed, not the one the world wanted.
33 “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”
This account in Mark begs the question: what kind of Messiah do you want? The kind Jesus is, or the kind the people prefer?