Summary: If we believe Jesus is the Christ, we will follow where He leads.
“And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 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 be raised up on the third day.” 23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Although Luke is not the one who tells us geographically where this discourse took place, we know from Matthew and Mark that Jesus is with His disciples in the area of Caesarea Philippi, at the southern foot of Mt Hermon. If you look at a map in the back of your Bible, find the Sea of Galilee, then scan up north from there, you will find Mt Hermon and at its southern base you will see “Panias” or perhaps “Banias”. The name is derived from Pan, the demon god who was worshiped there. His worshipers believed Pan was born in a cave there, and there were idols set up all over the area, where sacrifices were also made for Pan and other demon gods. This is the setting in which Jesus asked His friends, “Who do you say that I am?”
JESUS AMONG OTHER GODS
For my subtitle to this portion of my sermon I’ve borrowed the title of a book by Ravi Zacharias. It is not because I will be referring off and on to this man’s book that I use his title, but because this sermon will at least in part follow a similar path.
The book, “JESUS AMONG OTHER GODS”, contrasts the claims of Christ with those of the founders of the major world religions and demonstrates that Jesus Christ is truly ‘the way and the truth and the life’.
In his own introduction Zacharias says this:
“We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words. Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, as long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, as long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized.” JESUS AMONG OTHER GODS, R. Zacharias, W Pub Group, a division of Thomas Nelson, 2000
Well, we are not going to be comparing Christianity with Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism today. We really are not going to be comparing Christ to Pan or any other demon god.
What we are going to do is remember where Jesus and His disciples were during this discourse of His in verses 22 through 27, and let the Holy Spirit illumine in our hearts the eternal contrast between that which would destroy our souls, and the One who offers the only and everlastingly safe haven.
This region in which sat Caesarea Philippi was spiritually black with the infestation of demon gods, whose shrines dotted the countryside. Now remember that Caesarea Philippi, located at the southern base of Mt Hermon, is about 25 miles north of the north end of the Sea of Galilee.
There is no other record in the New Testament of Jesus being this far north. Commentators often employ the word ‘retire’ here, speaking of Jesus’ retirement from public ministry. They usually put the word in quotes because they certainly do not mean to imply that Jesus was ready to retire in the way we think of leaving our life’s work and going fishing.
This is what is meant. It is apparent that Jesus spent at least 9 days here with His disciples, because we are told by Matthew and Mark that they had come to the region, then here in Luke 9:28 he writes that some 8 days after this discourse they went up ‘the mountain’, which would be Mt Hermon, where Jesus was transfigured and where Peter suggested a perpetual Feast of Tabernacles with Jesus, Moses and Elijah.