Who is this Man?

In Galilee, the disciples witnessed Jesus heal the sick, cast out demons, forgive sins, and even calm a violent storm, all performed with great authority. But all too often, his words and deeds produced confusion and the question – “Who is this man?” Only at his execution did someone begin to understand who Jesus of Nazareth is.

This ironic storyline is threaded through the gospel of Mark, and it leads to the stunning conclusion - Until his crucifixion, no one recognized and acknowledged him as the “Son of God” with the exceptions of the demons he casts out and the heavenly voice at his baptism.

At the Jordan River, the voice from heaven proclaims him to be the beloved “Son.” Later, when he begins to exorcise demons, the “unclean spirits” recognize him as the "Son of God,” though whenever any demon makes an outcry he silences it - “for they knew who he was.”


In contrast to demons, the men and women of the Jewish nation proved incapable of understanding his identity or mission, including members of his immediate family and even his inner circle of disciples.

For example, after casting out a demon, amazed, the crowd “began to discuss among themselves saying: WHAT IS THIS?” - (Mark 1:10-11, 1:24-34, 5:7).

Following his calming of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples asked one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” In fact, they were even more fearful after Jesus commanded the storm to desist than they were during the tempest. Even a display of the power of that magnitude proved insufficient to open their eyes - (Mark 1:27, 4:41).

Later, while on the verge of grasping his identity, Peter declared - “You are the Messiah.” But when Jesus explained what his calling entailed - suffering, rejection, death - Peter “began to rebuke him,” whatever momentary glimmer of insight he had disappeared.

The idea of Israel’s Messiah being crucified by the nation’s greatest enemy was inconceivable to a devout and patriotic Jew. But Jesus reacted by sharply reprimanding Peter: “Withdraw behind me, Satan, because you are not regarding the things of God but the things of men!” - (Mark 8:29-32).


Only at the Cross does one man recognize him, and quite ironically, none other than the Roman centurion in charge of his execution. When Jesus breathed his last, the pagan officer declared - “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

The centurion perceived what none of the religious leaders of Israel or even his own disciples could comprehend. Only when he was dying on the cross did someone begin to understand who Jesus was, the “Son of God.”

Thus, there is no Christianity without Christ, and there is no saving faith or knowledge apart from “Christ Crucified.”

Years later, Paul presented Christ’s submission to the shameful death of execution on a Roman cross as the paradigm for Christian conduct, especially within the congregation.


And according to Paul, the Son of God “poured himself out, taking the form of a slave,” and he humbled himself by becoming “obedient as far as death, even death upon a cross.”

In his letter to the Philippians, this becomes the paradigm for right conduct; namely, to count one’s fellow believer as better than oneself - “in lowliness of mind - (Philippians 2:6-11).

To follow Jesus means to reconfigure one’s life in conformity to his teachings and example. And this pattern of discipleship goes back to Christ himself when he taught his disciples that his disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above his master… He that does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” - (Matthew 10:24-38).

One day, his disciples were disputing which of them would be the “greatest” in the kingdom. But Jesus admonished them:

  • Not so is it to be among you, but whoever shall desire to become great among you shall be your minister, and whosoever shall desire to be first among you shall be your slave: just as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom instead of many.”

Greatness” in his realm is achieved only through self-sacrificial service to others. To follow "the Lamb wherever he goes" means living a life of humble service, submission to the will of the Father, and a willingness to suffer for Jesus and his people.

The Son of God cannot be understood by his miraculous deeds. Only in his sacrificial death for others can we begin to perceive who he is and what is the nature of his mission.


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Language of the New Testament