Sermon: Who do You Say Jesus is? (Luke 9:18-22)

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Luke had a mission as he wrote his book.  His purpose was to explain the truth surrounding Jesus and the Gospel to his friend Theophilus and to us.

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [1]

So, along the way Luke seeks to show his friend and show us the identity of Jesus.  So far in Luke, we’ve seen what Jesus has been doing.  As we work our way through the first nine chapters of Luke, we can make some inferences by deduction as to who Jesus is.

Jesus taught with God’s authority…

Jesus displayed His power over sickness…

Jesus displayed His power over creation…

Jesus displayed His power over death…

Jesus displayed His power to forgive sin…

Luke has been laying out one proof after another that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God based on the evidence.  Only God could do the things Jesus did.  So the conclusion is that Jesus is the Son of God based on the evidence.

Here’s an example of biblical deduction based on factual evidence reported by Luke.  When Jesus calmed the storm, He showed His power and authority over creation…

Psalm 107:23        Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the great waters;

24   they saw the deeds of the Lord,

his wondrous works in the deep.

25   For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

26   They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their evil plight;

27   they reeled and staggered like drunken men

and were at their wits’ end.

28   Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

29   He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed. [2]

Luke 8:22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” [3]

We see that the disciples knew Jesus was different.  They knew He was powerful and that He had authority to command creation and it obeyed.  They were still unsure exactly who He was.

The text before us today marks a turning point in the Gospel.  Luke makes a very important shift from making logical deductions about the identity of Jesus to a factual declaration as to the identity of Jesus.

Please hear God’s Word…

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” [4]

God, please grant us the same conviction that Peter had…Jesus is the Christ of God.

1. Opinions of Man

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”

In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as in our day, everyone had an opinion about Jesus.  What was the current public opinion concerning the identity of Jesus?  The rumors were that Jesus was really John the Baptist resurrected.  He preached the same message as John and had a similar style, so some had the opinion that He was John the Baptist.

The second most popular answer in the public poll was that He was Elijah.  Based on the passage in Malachi this was an understandable mistake.

Mal. 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. [5] 

Jesus came in the strength and power of Elijah, but He was not Elijah.

The third most popular answer was that Jesus was one of the prophets of old who had returned.  This was probably due to His authority in preaching and due to His power to heal and raise the dead.

These public opinions were actually in a sense on the right track.  The masses saw the works of Jesus and heard the Words He spoke and formed opinions.

Today if we were to take a poll, asking the same question, who is Jesus, we would get all sorts of answers.

A teacher and prophet whose life and teachings form the basis of Christianity. Christians believe Jesus to be Son of God and the Christ.—American Heritage Dictionary

If you asked people on the street the question as others have, some would probably say, He was a great teacher.  Others would say He was a great organizer and leader.  Then some would say He is a made up figure. 

Albert Schweitzer had this opinion when it came to the identity of Jesus…

Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publically as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence.—Schweitzer (Quoted in Philip Ryken’s Luke Commentary, 447)

We shouldn’t be concerned too much when people like Schweitzer say these things.  He was a lost man who formulated his own opinion.  His is simply one of hundreds of ideas concerning Jesus.  We must understand that when it comes to public opinion the answers are across the board.  Some say this and some say that.  The real issue is not what people think.  The issue is what does God’s Word say?  If we are going to get to the bottom of this extremely important question we must go to the Word of God and see what the Bible specifically says about the identity of Jesus.

2. The Facts from God

20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Here is an amazing truth concerning the identity of Jesus.  What the masses saw was much the same as what Peter saw.  They saw Jesus perform miracles and so did Peter.  They heard Jesus preach and so did Peter.  They saw Jesus lift the bread up to heaven and pray and so did Peter.  What made the difference?

In order to see this clearly, we must look to Matthew’s account of this same story.

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 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. [6]

What is Jesus saying to Peter?  Peter, you have gotten your information from a different source altogether.  Peter’s answer to the question didn’t come from public opinion.  He didn’t take a poll and let the people decide.  God revealed this to Peter.  This was something God had not revealed to the masses.

If God had not revealed this truth to Peter, he would have had the same answer everyone else had…Jesus, you must be one of the prophets of old.  That was not his answer and Jesus, Himself revealed Peter’s source…Peter’s information came straight from God.

It’s so important that we get our information straight from God as well.  If we are to answer that same question Jesus asked Peter, we must search God’s Word for the facts and not rely on hearsay or popular opinion.

Luke has been giving us statements about the identity of Jesus:

Legal Heir to the house of David…

Luke 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. [7]

Both Joseph and Mary are from the house of David…

 Luke 2:4-5And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.[8]

He was the legal heir to the throne of David…

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” [9]

He would fulfill the ancient promises regarding salvation…

Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,  for he has visited and redeemed his people [10]

Jesus is Savior…

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [11]

At Jesus’ baptism, we have the account of God the Father declaring Jesus to be His Son and we read about the Holy Spirit descending and anointing Jesus.  This anointing was a kingly anointing.

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” [12]

Where do we get our information about the true identity of Jesus?  We get the truth from God’s Word…in this case; we just looked at the first three chapters of Luke.

Peter’s answer was directly revealed from God.

20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

What Peter was getting at was that Jesus is the Messiah=Christ…of God or who came from God.  Jesus is God’s Son sent by Him.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. [13]

Do you see how important it is to know who Jesus really is?  Eternal life lies in the balance and is dependent on our knowledge of Jesus’ identity.

Based on all the facts found in Scripture and based on God opening our eyes, we believe and salvation becomes a reality.

If all we think about Jesus is that He existed or was a good man or a great teacher or a good model for morals we have not believed what we must believe to be saved.

Knowing Jesus correctly is eternal life!

3.  The Rest of the Story

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” [14]

So far through deduction and explicit declaration we conclude with Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  That amazing pinnacle of Luke so far is made clear.  Now Jesus tells them something that has been hinted at in the entire Bible…

The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

The Messiah King Son of God is to be…killed!

Jesus has every right to rule and reign.  He meets all the criteria.  He is the legal heir to David’s throne.  He is the bloodline to David’s throne.  He has taught with the authority of God.  He has healed sickness and disease, raised the dead, and cured the lame and deaf.  He has overpowered the forces of darkness by casting out evil spirits.  God the Father has declared from heaven that He is His Son.  The Holy Spirit has marked Him out through the anointing.  Everything indicates that Jesus will be the next reigning monarch over Israel…except now He tells His followers that He is going to die.

Notice with me that Jesus doesn’t simply say He is going to die but that He must die.  This must means that in the eternal plan of God, the only way salvation can be attained by God’s people is through the death of Jesus.  Only through the cross can we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus.  It’s no second choice and it’s no plan B that took Jesus to the cross.  From the beginning of time, even before, He had to go to the cross.  If God’s people are to be saved Jesus’ death must happen.

Jesus tells them of the events that were decreed from the beginning of time.  These events would happen exactly as God determined they would.

Peter, not only am I the Christ but I’m the crucified, buried, and risen again Christ!

Jesus must die!  His death saves.  His death doesn’t make salvation attainable to people it actually saves.  His death spanned the centuries, reaching back to Adam and Eve then to His contemporaries and into the future.  His death secured salvation for God’s people.

Now, we have to answer the question personally.  Who do you say that Jesus is?  Is He your Lord and Savior?  Have you trusted Christ?  Repented of your sin?  Are you currently being conformed to His image?  Who do you say Jesus is?

 

 



[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ps 107:23–29). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 8:22–25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 9:18–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mal 4:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 16:16–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:26–27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 2:4–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:32–33). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:68). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 2:11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 3:21–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[13] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 17:3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[14] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 9:18–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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