‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Who is Jesus, to you?’ Text: Luke 9:18-22
Introduction: When the temperature soared to 120 degrees, a missionary in South America was tempted to cool off in the local river, but he was leery because of the man-eating fish. He asked if it was safe to swim in water where there were piranhas. The locals assured him that piranhas only bite people while they are swimming in schools, which they never did in that part of the river. So each afternoon for the rest of the summer, the missionary enjoyed cooling off in the river.
Months later he heard reports that a local fisherman had fallen out of his boat and had not been found. Alarmed, he asked his neighbors if perhaps the man had been eaten by piranhas. “Oh, no,” they assured him. “Only while swimming in schools do piranhas bite people, and they never swim in schools around here.” “But why not around here?” the missionary asked. “Oh,” the neighbor casually replied, “they never swim in schools where there are alligators.”
Asking the right questions and answering them correctly can mean the difference between being safe and being an alligator’s lunch! (Steven Cole)
Background: Up to this point in Luke; the crowds, have been asking the right question… ‘Who is Jesus?’ We’ll see in our text this morning that the answers they came up with were… well, nice, complementary, but not correct. Think about it…
- The miraculous events that surrounded His birth.
- The proclamations made about Him in the Temple when He was dedicated.
- The announcement made by John the Baptist about Him.
- Jesus’ teachings about His mission.
- The many displays of His absolute authority over; nature, disease, demons, even death.
- The fact that he could transfer His power to others, as He did with the 12.
- The demonstration of His power to multiply little to make it sufficient for all… in feeding of the 5000.
I find it interesting, and at the same time sad, that considering all that Jesus had been saying and doing, the people just didn’t get it,
- they didn’t see who He was
- or what He came to do.
But, Jesus had chosen the 12 to be His apostles, the ‘sent out’ ones, for the purpose of continuing His work when He goes back to the Father.
- They… needed to know who He was.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 9:18.
- Luke 9:18-22 Who is Jesus?
- Luke 9:18 Rest
Read: Luke 9:18a
If you remember from 2 Sundays ago, I said that the 12 apostles had gotten back from a long evangelistic trip. They were tired and needed some alone time with Jesus.
- But, they weren’t done with the lesson Jesus wanted to teach them,
- So, instead of rest, Jesus called them to serve the 10,000 or so people, Jesus had miraculously fed.
Well, here we see that they finally get some rest and alone time with Jesus. And notice what Luke says about that rest time… Jesus is praying!
- Luke’s Gospel takes special note of Jesus’ prayer life.
Jesus never let His busy schedule, or the fact that He was tired, keep Him from talking to the Father.
What do you do to rest?
- Take a long overdue nap?
- Lay on the couch with a cup of hot tea and watch some TV?
- Go to the beach and read a book while under your canopy?
Honestly, when we think of resting, I don’t believe that we think about praying. Perhaps we should?
Well, to be honest, Jesus knew what was going to happen after His prayer time. He knew the questions He was going to ask His disciples.
- He knew, this would be the moment to start to reveal the Father’s ‘big picture’ to them;
- not only about who He is, and what He came to do,
- but, how, that all was going to happen.
And it’s not what they were expecting.
Jesus, I think, was praying, that the Holy Spirit would make the hearts of His disciples, fertile soil to receive the truths the Father was about to reveal to them.
The time had come to ask the questions.
- Luke 9:19 The crowd
Read: Luke 9:18b-19
Jesus asks His disciples Who do the crowds say that I am?. Jesus knew what they were saying. But it was important that the disciples thought about and then verbalized the crowd’s answers.
Why? He used it as a segue way to ask the 12 the same question. You see,
- Jesus never kept who He was and that we needed a relationship with Him
- in the abstract, or even in a universal sense.
He always made it personal.
Just one example from John 11:24-27
- Martha said to Him, “I know that He will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die…. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Do you see it? Jesus says Whoever believes in Me. Then He asks Martha, Do you believe?.
If you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, you know what I’m talking about.
- There was a time in your life when you knew the verse that said For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. (John 3:16)
- There was a time in your life when you knew the verse that said Whosoever believes in the Son has eternal life. (John 3:36)
- There was a time in your life when you knew the verse that said Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:14)
- And, there was a time in your life when Jesus asked you… specifically you,
Do you believe?
- And in that moment, Jesus became more than just … out there, somewhere. He revealed Himself to you and became…
And your life was changed…forever.
Jesus, by asking these questions, was starting the process of taking Jesus from
- out there to in here for His disciples.
So, back to the question. Jesus asks the 12, Who do the crowds say that I am?
- John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the other OT prophets.
I hope you noticed something in their answers? The people mentioned:
- Were all significant and passionate followers of God.
- They were popular with the Israelites,
- they were all… good men.
- And they were all…dead!
The crowds realized, that for Jesus to be any of those people, they would have had to been raised from the dead.
- They recognized that Jesus was someone special, someone with power and authority.
- They thought they were honoring Jesus by saying He was one of the OT prophets.
But, there was still no consensus as to His identity, no generally held opinion among the crowds, except… that, like the prophets,
- He was a good man.
And that last opinion has stuck for most… even today. People recognize Jesus as a man who was a great teacher of morality. A man of extraordinary spirituality. But, just a man.
- And they, like the crowds in Jesus’ day, missed the boat… and that boat was sailing to heaven.
- Luke 9:20 You
Read: Luke 9:20
Peter is quickly becoming the spokesperson for the 12. While I don’t think the apostles were expecting Jesus to make things personal, it seems they may have had discussions among themselves about who Jesus was.
- Remember when they were in the boat and Jesus calmed the storm, they asked Who then is this that He commands even wind and water and they obey Him?
So, Peter answered The Christ of God. Matthews Gospel adds a bit more information that’s important: (Matthew 16:16-17)
- Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Wanting to avoid a lengthy discussion on sovereign election, allow me to say this:
- The crowd saw what Jesus did and heard what He said. There were discussions among themselves, and in the end, they couldn’t come up with a unified answer.
- They didn’t know who Jesus was.
But, when God chooses to reveal Jesus to someone, they will know who He is.
That’s what happened here. And notice Jesus said that Peter was blessed when God had revealed this wonderful truth to Him. Many of you here this morning, know that to be true.
The Christ of God.
- Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah.
Way back, when we first started in Luke’s Gospel, I said that Luke develops and maintains a direct link between
- the OT prophesies of the promised Messiah
- and the NT revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.
Peter’s declaration You are The Christ of God is the central link between OT prophesy and NT reality.
From this point on, everything, will be different…
- Jesus will focus on heading to Jerusalem. In Luke 9:51 Luke tells us When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.
- Jesus will reveal to His disciples how He will be the Messiah, and it includes His rejection, His suffering, His death, and His resurrection.
He begins that in verses 21-22. But I’m not there yet.
The Christ of God.
- Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah, the One promised long ago by God through His prophets.
But to stand with Jesus by declaring Him to be the Messiah would have some serious consequences:
- Most in Israel at that time, were not living lives faithful to God. And because of the religious leaders jealousy, they wanted Jesus dead. Not good for those who profess Jesus to be the Messiah.
- Rome wouldn’t like it either. To declare Jesus to be Israel’s Messiah meant He was their King… Caesar declared himself king over Israel, he would kill anyone who followed another.
The view that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah could cost the 12 their lives.
Here’s the thing. For Peter to say that Jesus is the Messiah, is almost the same today as saying, that Jesus is the only way to God and Heaven.
- It’s becoming a lot less safe here in the U.S. to hold that view.
- It’s already not safe in the rest of the world.
Jesus, in the verses 23-27 will talk about the cost of discipleship, of standing for and with Jesus.
The Christ of God.
One more important but often overlooked point. The grammatically correct way to translate this would be You are God’s Christ or God’s Messiah. It’s in the possessive case in Greek.
- This shows, all of this; Jesus’ birth, life, power, authority, teachings, miracles, all of it, is God’s doing. Jesus is God’s
And… If we even think… that might be true… it should drive us to listen to, obey, worship, follow and serve… Jesus! The Christ of God!
- Luke 9:21-22 Jesus
Read: Luke 9:21-22
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because Luke doesn’t. What Jesus says will be repeated by Him more than a few times in the next 13 chapters.
But just a couple of thoughts before I close.
Why did Jesus tell His disciple not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah? We’re not told.
But we know that the disciples did not yet fully understand what Jesus being the Messiah meant.
- Remember Israel was expecting a political Messiah, one to overthrow Rome.
- But, Jesus begins teaching them that He must, and I highlight must, suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed.
- The idea of a suffering Messiah (found in Isaiah 53 and other places) was passed over by the Israelites because of their hatred of Rome.
Jesus MUST suffer and die on the cross…
Besides that, the 12 did not yet understand what it meant to be a follower of the Messiah. Jesus will begin the process of teaching them about true discipleship in verses 23-27.
But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Jesus told them that as the Messiah, on the third day would be raised.
But, they didn’t hear that part because they were so fixed on Jesus saying He would suffer, be rejected and killed.
The tunnel was pretty dark for them and they couldn’t see the light at the end of it.
- But, praise God, they will!
Conclusion: Who do you say that I am?
That is life’s most important question.
- It’s the difference between heaven or hell.
It not only determines your eternity, but it affects the rest of your beliefs. And it’s your beliefs that determine how you live your life.
And because of that, it’s vital that we articulate a clear answer about who Jesus is… individually, personally. And there is only one right answer.
- Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and as the 12 will learn later,
- the one in whom I place by faith and trust for the forgiveness of my sin and my place in heaven.
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
You see, when that statement remains just in our minds, it can become fuzzy, and often minimized by our emotions and situations.
But when we say it out loud, when we declare it publically, like Peter did,
- We begin to see what we believe about Jesus more clearly,
- And hold to our beliefs in Jesus more firmly.
So, can you declare with me today what the Apostle Peter declared over 2000 years ago?
- Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
- Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
If you were unable to say those words or say them without any sense of authenticity,
- please talk to me after the service or talk to one of the people in the Lobby during our Prayer Time.
Don’t let this moment slip by.
- It’s that important!