Summary: This sermon explores the confession of Jesus made by the crowds with that of Peter’s confession, and seeks to explain the important differences therein.
Our text for consideration this morning is the gospel lesson from the 9th chapter of Luke which was read. In it, we hear Peter’s confession of Jesus; that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Well, I’d like to take a walk through the narrative again highlighting a few things along the way as we strive forward to investigate our question, “Is truth relative or (in other words) - changeable based on the situation, or is it absolute – unchanging, universal. And stemming from that then, is Jesus relative or changeable based on the situation or is He unchanging and absolute?”
We begin as any good investigation would…with a question. In our first verse, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Matthew chapter 16, contains another version of this same event, and there the question is: “Who do people say that the Son of Man?” Regardless of the question it is easy to see that Jesus is referring to Himself. The disciples know the Son of Man in the question is Jesus, you and I know the Son of Man is Jesus, the crowds knew the Son of Man reference was Jesus – I mean He had referred to Himself as the Son of Man on numerous occasions in His preaching. And so Luke recognizes the deeper question being asked here. “Who is Jesus?”
Well, the disciples offer the various answers they have heard from the crowds that were following Jesus. Maybe Jesus is John the Baptist…some say, maybe Elijah, or some other prophet brought back from the dead.
You know what? Even though none of these is correct - those are actually some very interesting answers. Often when we consider what the people’s thoughts were, we can easily think. “How dumb those people in the crowds were! I mean, they had Jesus right there speaking to them in the flesh! They heard His teaching with authority – and were amazed. They saw His miraculous deeds and were awed by the power of God Himself…and yet still, they were foolishly blind and did not know who He was. ???John the Baptist, Elijah, or Matthew adds Jeremiah!!??? OH…COME ON!?”
But you know what’s interesting about that list? It’s actually a pretty impressive list of people. John the Baptist – he was the prophet of whom even King Herod was afraid. (The King!!!.) Elijah – he’s just about one of the greatest Old Testament prophets ever…not to mention Jeremiah or the slew of other great prophets – including Obadiah, Amos, Micah, Isaiah… Well now, if the Who’s Who of the people on this list is not impressive enough, consider this: What else in common besides great deeds and good reputations do the names on this list have? They are all DEAD people!!!
That means that to believe that Jesus was any one of these people listed, you would have to believe in some kind of a resurrection.
Wow…maybe we should give the crowds a little more credit – but then again maybe not. For Jesus (of course) is NOT - John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet…
However, we have uncovered an important point.
It is possible for us to have good thoughts of Jesus Christ, and yet have them not be the right ones. It is possible for us to have a high opinion of Him, and yet not high enough. Let’s see…an example of this might be to say, “Jesus is (a) son, or maybe even, Jesus is Lord!!!…But one among many…after all, all religions point to the same thing, don’t they?” (shake head no)
The opposite would be to say, “Jesus is Lord of lords, and King above ALL kings. And no one comes to the Father except through Him…period. (Do we see the difference?…Because it’s a very big one.)
Let’s return to our quest and to the narrative, for we move to the heart of Jesus’ talk with His disciples. He turns to them and asks, “What about you?…Who do you say that I am?” Now the disciples heard the same teaching as the multitudes in the crowds, witnessed the same miracles, oh but wait – they do have a little more, don’t they?… They had the parables explained to them, they received special instruction. That’s because they were better people right?! NO. They received these “extras” because Jesus had chosen them to be different. He had called them. And so when Peter gives his confession, when Peter gives his testimony to who Jesus is. When he answers as he does (with the right answer) it’s not because Peter is especially intelligent, or because his powers of observation and investigation are greater than most men, or because he is more gifted than the average Joe in the crowds – no…he answers as he does (with the one and only true right answer) – because the Father has revealed that to him. He is privy to the truth, because he listens to the Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Peter answers through faith worked in him by the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit testifies and reveals the Truth. Now you can say it with me, “Jesus is the Way…the TRUTH…and the life.” Jesus is Truth. The Holy Spirit in working faith in us, reveals to us Jesus – as our God, as our Savior, as our Lord. And so, Peter then speaks the truth, he confesses the truth, and says, “Jesus, you are the Christ God.”