Spring is the time for green grace, beautiful flowers and track meets. Runners train to do their best by following the coach’s instructions, practicing proper form of running, running and training in preparation for the big race. Just before the race, the coach quizzes the runners to make sure they remember what to do and reviews strategies for winning the race. At the starting block, the runner visualizes the race and remembers the coach’s instructions. At the race, the runner focuses on the job ahead to be first to the finish line.
We can see the story in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8 as a way Jesus prepared his disciples for their role after the crucifixion. Like a good coach who gives the runners a day’s rest before the race, Jesus had taken his disciples away for a rest to an area not frequented by Jews. Caesarea Philippi was 35 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee in a region of pagan worship. Jews avoided the area; there, Jesus could be alone with his disciples to check their learning and help them focus on the upcoming race of discipleship.
As the disciples viewed the excesses and pagan worship in the distance, Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?”
The disciples remembered that people had come to hear Jesus’ stories and to see his miracles. People knew Jesus was someone special. “The crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” Matthew 7.29.
The disciples answered what they had heard the people say. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.”
Jesus pressed his disciples further…”What about you? Who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered. We love Peter who always seemed to have answers. He often spoke for the group. Peter spoke boldly “You are the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah.”