Jesus' disciples reported the popular rumors that were circulating about his identity. Then he asked, “Who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29)
Peter saw Jesus as “Messiah,” the “Anointed One” chosen to be king. He witnessed the miracles and saw Jesus' authority in answering the religious establishment. For centuries, Jews had expected a great political, military leader. They never forgot that they were God’s chosen people. They dreamed of a day when there would arise another king David who would, once again, make them great in righteousness and in power.
Peter and the others had not quite grasped the concept of Jesus as the “Suffering Servant.” Their shallow understanding of what it meant to follow Jesus led to Judas' betrayal & Peter's denial. Jesus warned them not to tell others (Mark 8:30). Jesus had to teach them what being Messiah really meant,
Peter is reprimanded for cutting Jesus off as he is speaking of the suffering and death that await him is Jerusalem. The disciples had their own ideas of what Jesus' role was to be. There was no room for suffering. They thought they had hitched their future to a rising star.
Many people have head knowledge about Jesus but not heart knowledge. They want Jesus on their own terms but following Christ calls for self sacrifice. Jesus’ first description of what it means to follow him is, “Deny yourself.”
Self-denial means that you find fulfillment and joy through dedication to Jesus Christ. That means we can’t always do what we want to do, follow our natural tendencies. Tough, life-changing decisions need to be made in the shadow of the cross, and not the desires of the heart. Denial of self is placing yourself in the hands of God at all times, no matter where his hands might lead you.
Jesus also said, “Take up your cross.” Cross-bearing is not something thrust upon you. Bearing the cross is a voluntary form of sacrificial obedience that identifies us completely with Jesus Christ.