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 this Jesus of Nazareth is.

This ironic storyline is threaded through the Gospel of Mark, and it leads to a stunning conclusion - Until his crucifixion, no human being recognized and acknowledged him as the “Son of God.” He was only acknowledged as the Son by the demons he cast out and the heavenly voice following his baptism by John.

Cross in Field - Photo by Albert Dehon on Unsplash
[Photo by Albert Dehon on Unsplash]

At the Jordan River, the voice from heaven proclaimed him the beloved “
Son.” Later, when he began to exorcise demons, the “unclean spirits” recognized him as the “Son of God,” though whenever any demons made an outcry he silenced them - “for they knew who he was.”

In contrast to demons, the men and women of the Jewish nation proved incapable of understanding his identity and mission, including members of his immediate family and his inner circle of disciples. After casting out one demon, amazed, the crowd “began to discuss among themselves saying: What is this?” - (Mark 1:10-11, 1:24-34, 5:7).

Following his miraculous calming of the storm, 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 storm. Even a display of the power of that magnitude proved insufficient to open the eyes of his closest followers - (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 means - suffering, rejection, death - Peter “began to rebuke him,” whatever momentary glimmer of insight Peter had disappeared.

The idea of Israel’s Messiah being crucified by her enemies 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 his death does one man finally recognize him, and quite ironically, none other than a Roman centurion who very likely oversaw 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.


Writing years later, Paul presented the submission of Jesus to a shameful death on a Roman cross as the paradigm for Christian conduct, especially in the Assembly.

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.” This becomes the ultimate example for right conduct by his disciples, to count others better than oneself “in lowliness of mind - (Philippians 2:6-11).

To follow Jesus means to reconfigure your life in conformity to his teachings and example. This pattern of discipleship goes back to the Nazarene 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, when his disciples were disputing which of them would be the “greatest” in the kingdom, 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.”

Hence, true “greatness” is achieved only by self-sacrificial service to others. To follow "the Lamb wherever he goes" means to live a life of humble service, submission to the will of the Father, and a willingness to suffer for him and his people.

Jesus cannot be understood fully or only by his miraculous deeds. Only in his sacrificial death for others do we begin to perceive who he is, the nature of his mission, and what it means to be his disciple.


The Mission

Ekklésia - Assembly of God