from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 17

Mark 8:27-38: Peter's Confession

The Story


We follow the Lord and His disciples northward to Caesarea Philippi, a town near the foot of Mount Hermon. He had taken His disciples to this quiet place away from the disbelieving Pharisees and the idolizing multitude. Before, when He took the disciples apart for rest, the multitudes followed them. But now He must tell His disciples many things, and first of all they must know who He really was. So He asked them first, "Whom do men say that I am? and they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets." All these answers show that men thought of Him as having heavenly power; but not till the Lord asked, "But whom say ye that I am?" did Peter say, "Thou art the Christ," perhaps speaking what was in the hearts of all the twelve who had been with Him and seen all His wonderful works and heard all His wonderful words.

In Matthew the Lord says, that upon this rock He will build His church; which means that upon the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord's church is built. The Lord told His disciples to tell no man, but began to tell them of the things that must happen to Him before His work on earth was done. And it was all so different from what they had expected! They could not believe that the Christ, the Messiah, instead of being a great king should be despised and rejected and killed. And Peter tried to persuade Him that it could not be so; but the Lord knew that it was the only way for Him to save men, and that to come as a great earthly king would not help men to be good. It was a temptation to do the easier, pleasanter way, and the Lord said, "Get thee behind Me, Satan," for that was not the way of God but of evil men.

Then He told them plainly that to be His followers they must expect hard things in this world; that those who were not willing to give up the pleasures of this world for His sake could not be His disciples. And He tried to show them that it would not do them any good if they gained the whole world and lost their own souls or their chance of heaven; for this life is soon over, but the life that is coming will last for ever and ever.

This was a sad, hard lesson for the disciples to learn, for it was all so different from what they had hoped and expected. This was not at all the kind of king that the Jews had been looking for, but He was a king so great that He did not need an earthly crown, for His kingdom was a heavenly kingdom. And He said that whosoever should be ashamed of Him and His words while He was here as one of themselves, of him would the Lord be ashamed when they should see Him as the King of heaven.


Find on the map where the Jordan rises. Stand on these hills to the west of the river and look across the green meadow to the snowy range of Hermon which rises against the blue sky. It is a fine mountain nine thousand feet high. The great snow banks on the mountain melt in the warm sun, and the water finding its way in among the rocks, bursts out at the foot of the mountain in fine great springs. One of these springs to the northeast of Hermon sends a beautiful fresh river into the desert, watering the gardens of Damascus; one to the west sends the Hasbany to join the streams from two other springs to form the Jordan, winding southward through great marshes of papyrus till it spreads out in the pretty Lake Huleh.

The two other springs are at Dan and Banias. Near the middle of the valley is a little round hill with an enormous spreading oak tree on the top. That is where the city Dan stood, and from the side of the little hill the largest branch of the Jordan rushes out, making trees and flowers plentiful. The other great spring is at the foot of the bare cliffs of Hermon. The streams from this spring dash down among the rocks watering the thickets of poplar, the great oaks, the orchards and gardens, the wild roses and the vines of clematis which festoon the trees. Once a large town stood here. In the old time the spring was sacred to the Greek god Pan, and the city was called Paneas. Today it is called Banias. In the Gospel time it belonged to the district of Herod's son Philip. (Luke 3:1) He enlarged and adorned the place and called it Caesarea in honor of Caesar, and he added Philippi to distinguish it from another Caesarea on the Mediterranean shore. This beautiful region the Lord visited with His disciples.

Did most people who saw the Lord know that He was very unlike other men? They saw Him working as a carpenter, walking from town to town, resting on the well. But they saw that He had power such as no mere man had, to calm the sea, to heal the sick, to awaken from the sleep of death, to cast out devils. Those who knew Him best felt something of the Divine love in all His works, and they believed, although He was so unlike the king whom they had looked for, that He was the Christ, the Anointed, the long expected Messiah - for all three names mean the same. It was here near Caesarea Philippi that Peter, speaking for the disciples, confessed their belief in the Lord. The knowledge that the Lord is not merely a man, but "God with us," is the rock on which the Christian Church stands firm.

1. Where was Caesarea Philippi?

2. What questions did the Lord ask His disciples there?

3. Who did others say that the Lord was?

4. Who did the disciples say that He was?

5. Which answer was right?

Spiritual Study


Who had said of the Lord, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead "? (Matthew 14:2; Luke 9:7-9)

Sure unchanging facts on which we base our plans and our reasoning, are rocks in the mind. Natural everyday facts are common rocks; facts through which the light of heaven shines are precious stones. Such a one is the corner stone of the church, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This truth is the rock, and not Peter personally, except as he stands for the truth he spoke. The Son of the living God means God Himself come down to the plane of human life. (R. 768; E. 411; T. 342)

See in verse 33 how even the intended kindness of Peter was a trial to the Lord, holding Him back from doing His perfect work. In this way at times even the angels were a hindrance to the Lord, for not even they could understand the depth and greatness of His love.

What life must we lose? What life is saved?

Think of verses 36, 37 when we see the anxiety and care for things and formalities of earthly life - for clothes, for good appearance, for money - crowding out the thoughts and affections for the Lord and heaven which make life really precious.

Are there any ways in which boys and girls may show that they are ashamed of the Lord? Remember the warning in verse 38.

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