Summary: It is one thing to know who Jesus is . . . it is another to become His follower.
The Quiz We Must Pass
©Copyright March 14, 2010 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Walking with Jesus
It is a dreaded part of any school year: exam time. Every student has at one time or another believed that life would be better if we could just eliminate quizzes, exams, papers and projects. In fact one of the ways teachers motivate students during the year is by telling them that if they achieve a particularly grade point average they can skip the final exam.
Deep down inside of us we know that tests are necessary in order to measure progress. From exams a teacher can determine whether or not students understand the material. Sometimes teaching methods need to be adjusted.
As a student there was a part of me that viewed tests as a way to show what I had learned. Sometimes there was more to show than others.
As we turn to Luke 9:18-25 it is “pop quiz” day. We are told Jesus was praying and following His time of prayer he asked his disciples “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Jesus was not trying to track his popularity. He was setting the stage for the very important follow up question. The answer to that question would determine whether or not they were ready to move forward in their training.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus asked the disciples this question: “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
People understood that there was something different and even prophetic about Jesus. They recognized that He was a man who spoke from God. They might not have known who He was but they knew He was someone unique and special.
If the first question on this quiz was worth 10 points, the next question was worth 90, “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” We can read every book written about Jesus; we can memorize everything He said; we can acknowledge that He is the most esteemed man who ever walked the earth and we can appear to be a very competent and spiritual person. However, the only question that will matter will be “Who do you say Jesus is?” The most important question is your view of Christ. Is He a wise teacher, a worthy example, a spiritual leader, or is He the Son of God and the Savior who gave His life as a payment for your sin?
Peter was the first to raise his hand. Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” It was the right answer. The word Christ means Messiah or Promised One. Peter testified that Jesus is the One to whom the Old Testament was pointing. Jesus is the very One for whom Israel had been waiting.
Peter had the right answer so we are surprised to read, “Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone”. (v. 21) This wasn’t like a teacher telling students not to tell other classes about the test, giving them an unfair advantage. Peter technically had the right answer, but he really didn’t understand what that answer meant.
Think about a person who takes a first year psychology course. These are some of the most dangerous people in the world! They have a little bit of knowledge and they often feel qualified to give solutions to anyone who is troubled. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough training to really understand the complexities of truly helping troubled people. The disciples had accurate information but that information was incomplete.
To Peter, the disciples, and just about every other Jewish person, the Messiah was the One who would come and release Israel from foreign occupation (at present that was Rome). They believed the Messiah was going to be an earthly king who was going to restore material prosperity and military strength to Israel. Jesus didn’t want the disciples announcing that He was the Messiah because it would lead to political mayhem. The disciples needed to learn why Jesus had come before Jesus would tell them to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”.
What Does It Mean To Be His Follower?
After a test a teacher will hopefully see that the students are ready to move to the next chapter or level of study. That seems to be what happens here. The disciples understood that Jesus was the Promised Messiah . . . now they needed to understand what the true nature of the Messiah would be.
22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (9:22)