Summary: What does it mean to be a disciple? a follower of jesus?
Who Do You Say He Is? Breaking Boundaries Series
Apr 5, 2009 Palm Sunday Luke 9:7-9, 18-27
Who Is Jesus?
One of the themes, weaving it’s way through our study of the book of Luke thus far, has come to us by way of a question: “who is this guy Jesus?”. We saw John the Baptist ask it in Luke 7, “John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?””. The disciples ask it when Jesus calms the storm in chapter 8:25, “The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!””. And, in a passage we skipped briefly past earlier in Luke 9, King Herod asks it: “7 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. 8 Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead. 9 “I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him.”
It is very much a “Palm Sunday” question as well. The story is familiar to us – the week before His crucifixion, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the crowds of people who join Him have one answer, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Lk. 19:38), while the religious leaders were plotting to have Jesus arrested and killed for claiming to be something they believed He was not.
First Dawning Realizations:
But Palm Sunday is still a ways off in terms of time back in Luke 9; Jesus is still in Galilee and this question is on lots of people’s minds – who is this Jesus guy who can heal, who commands demons, who raises the dead, who calms storms? In today’s passage, it is the exact subject of the conversation…
18 One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 19 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.” 20 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”
21 Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. 22 “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”
Peter’s Confession vs. 18-20:
Everyone is talking about it, so Jesus just comes right out and asks. First, what the “crowds” were saying about His identity, but then more to the point, what the disciples believed: “But who do you say I am?”
This really is the critical question, both in Jesus’ day but also in our own. What are we going to do with Jesus? We’ve been talking about sharing our story, about being sent with power and authority, about being like Jesus and breaking down boundaries between people and God, and this is a fantastic question for you to memorize and to genuinely ask people about. You see, in our context lots of people believe in God, 93% of Canadians according to Reg Bibby (cited from http://reginaldbibby.blogspot.com/2007/08/is-god-deador-just-misread.html on Mar 27, 2009). And that is good, people believe in God, we have a great place to start. But then the question we bring to the conversation is “what about Jesus – who do you think He is?”
For the first time in the gospel story in Scripture, the disciples are able to see the true answer. Peter mouths the words, but he does so not as one individual but as the spokesman for the group. Having walked with Jesus, heard Him teach, seen Him do miracles and then seen themselves do miracles in His name, and precisely because Jesus has just been praying for them (see vs. 18), they figure it out. ““But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!””.