Summary: Disciples try to understand Jesus true identity.
15. Who is Jesus?
November 28th, 2010
Who is Jesus
We are continuing on in our series through the Gospel of Luke asking the question: Who is Jesus? This is the most important question we will ever answer in our lives and this is what we see in our text today. Just because we know Jesus identity does not mean we understand who He really is and how that should affect our lives. We are in Luke 9:18. This is well into the third year of Jesus ministry and the disciples still do not fully understand who Jesus is.
Due to political pressures and rising opposition against Him from the religious leaders Jesus has been staying on the outskirts of Jewish territory for some time. Now He abandons Galilee altogether and travels twenty five miles north of Capernaum into the middle of Gentile territory. They are at Caesarea Philippi which is at the base of Mt. Hermon. The town sits at 1,150 ft above sea level and on a clear day you could see as far as Nazareth. This is a big moment for Jesus and the disciples.
The Jews have tried to force Jesus to become Messiah and He managed to get away from it but it has started really raising the question: who is Jesus? People are starting to talk about who He is and speculate about Him. They have made some good observations about Jesus but have not accurately discovered His true purpose or identity. So Jesus needs to make some corrections to their understanding of His mission and purpose. He is with the disciples and He wants to make sure they are on the right page. Notice it is not until after Jesus has sent the disciples out that they truly start to understand who He is and that He reveals this part of His identity. Jesus doesn’t reveal Himself to just anyone. There is so much about Jesus that we cannot understand until we take the step of becoming servants in His kingdom. The more Jesus becomes central to our lives the better we can see and understand who He really is. Verse 18:
Lk 9:18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” Lk 9:19 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.” Lk 9:20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Jesus starts off the moment by praying. This is His standard operating procedure for important events. Jesus doesn’t wait to pray until after a crisis He prays before the important events in His life. His focus is on syncing Himself with God in everything He does. Jesus prays then He asks the disciples two questions: who do people say that I am and who do you say that I am?
The Jews did not believe in reincarnation but they did believe that departed souls could possess or empower living people and give them special power. Some Jews thought Jesus was John the Baptists, some Elijah, and others that He was empowered by different prophets from their history. When they look back at their great leaders and prophets they see similarities to Jesus. Associating anyone else with one of these men who spoke the truth in the face of persecution and lived with a passion to do God’s work would be a great compliment. It is inadequate however to offer these answers to the question who Jesus is. They are seeing Jesus as empowered by someone from the past when those in the past are shadows pointing to Jesus.
Honestly, Jesus isn’t so concerned with popular vote. His identity is not defined by democracy. The reason He asks the disciples about the crowd’s opinion is to get them to start thinking about it. The real question is: who do you say I am? This is the most important questions we will ever be asked to answer.
Peter speaks for the whole group. Now Peter is a hit or miss guy. Sometimes what he says is really stupid, and sometimes it is brilliant but there is not a lot of middle ground with Peter. This is a hit moment for Him. Peter’s answer is that Jesus is Christ. Peter is not repeating information he heard somewhere else, this revelation of Jesus true identity is from God Himself. His confession of Jesus as the Christ is dead on. He is recognizing that Jesus is the king sent by God to do His work.
The title: “Son of the living God” was a Jewish title for Christ. It came from the idea that the Jewish God is actually living unlike the dead idols of the pagans. In response to Peter’s confession Jesus declares that Peter will be the foundation of the church.