Peter's Declaration (Mark 8:27-33)

Jesus and his disciples were walking near Caesarea Philippi and he asked them who people said he was. They told him some thought that he was John the Baptist, some thought that he was Elijah, and others thought that he was one of the prophets. He then asked them directly who they thought he was. Peter responded that he was the Messiah. Jesus told them not to tell anyone about him, and continued that the Son of Man would have to undergo suffering and even death, but that he would rise on the third day. Peter rebuked Jesus [told him off] for saying this, but Jesus then rebuked Peter, saying "Get behind me, Satan". Jesus explained that Peter was simply concentrating on human concerns, and not thinking of the concerns of God.


  • Who do people say I am? - Identity - Jesus knows full well who he is, but he wants to know what the people at large think about him.
  • Prophets - people think that Jesus is one of the Jewish prophets. They don't realise his true identity, and even if they did they wouldn't understand the significance of this.
  • Even the disciples don't understand - although Peter can give the correct title for Jesus ("Messiah") he shows that doesn't really understand what this means, and is told to keep quiet.

Contemporary Issues

  • Hopes/expectations for the future.
  • Difficulties that the future holds.
  • How other people see you.

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The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13)

Jesus went to the top of a high mountain with Peter, James and John, and he was transfigured in front of their eyes. His clothes turned glistening white - so white that it would have been impossible to bleach them such a pure colour. Moses and Elijah also appeared, and talked with Jesus. In his fright at the vision, Peter offered to make three tents - one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. A cloud then rested over them, and God's voice spoke out of it. He said, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him". The vision then passed, and the disciples were left alone with Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead - but they did not understand what he meant when he talked of rising from the dead. Jesus then explained that Elijah the prophet had come first, as the teachers of the law had said, in order to restore all things. He said that, in keeping with the scriptures, the Son of Man would now have to suffer much and be rejected.


  • Supernatural sight - as part of an amazing vision, Jesus' clothes turned whiter than they could have been bleached by any earthly person.
  • Links to Jewish history - Elijah and Moses are present, and Jesus refers both to the teachers of the law and to the scripture.
  • Voice of God - God spoke out of the cloud and confirmed the identity and power of Jesus (like at the moment of his baptism in the River Jordan).
  • Disciples still didn't understand - Peter, James and John didn't understand what was going on at the transfiguration. Neither did they know what Jesus meant when he talked of rising from the dead. This is why they were instructed to tell no one - if they themselves didn't understand then people at large would have no chance!

Contemporary Issues

  • Jesus' identity and message in the twenty first century.
  • Visions - do they happen today?
  • How does God speak to his people today?
  • What makes us sit up and listen?
  • Difficulties of receiving information 'in confidence', and keeping a secret.



Why was Jesus concerned with who people thought he was?

Who was the "Son of Man"? Why did he use this title?

Why do you think that Jesus was so stern with Peter in the first story? Why might he want his true identity to be kept secret?

What is the significance of Moses and Elijah appearing on the mountain?

Why do you think that Jesus talked so much about what was going to happen to him?