Last week we started into Chapter 9 of Luke which could be entitled, “A Real Identity Crisis.” In this chapter Jesus forces many of those around Him to face the question “Who is Jesus, really?”
When you are trying to answer the question for yourself, “Who is Jesus, really?” Remember the statement that we saw last week from C.S. Lewis:
"What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This is a question which has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us. The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it." (C. S. Lewis)
We said last week that the answer is four answers.
A. He Is The One Sent by God
B. He Is The Son of God
C. He Is The Son of Man
D. He Is Our Sovereign Lord
We started last week with A. He Is The One Sent By God. We saw Him send out the Twelve Disciples to minister on their own, to proclaim the kingdom and to heal disease. This was their trail run on their own. He did not go with them, but He equipped them with power and authority to execute their mission.
Remember, He will never sent you out to do anything He has not equipped you to do. It is His power and authority, not yours that you are depending on.
Then the Twelve returned tired and ready for a break, but the multitudes followed them and there was no rest for the weary. But just when they wanted a break, Jesus shows that His job also is to serve people.
When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.” They did so, and had them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full. Luke 9:10-17We noted that although Jesus knows that we need rest to avoid being burned out, we also need to serve when the time is right, even when we are tired.
As Chuck Swindoll has said:
I've heard it said, "Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself." (Chuck Swindoll)
When the Disciples wanted Jesus to send the people home, Jesus told the Disciples to feed them, but they did not have food to feed them. The Disciples were depending on themselves, not of the power of Jesus.
B. He Is The Son of God
So Jesus causes the little they had to feed everyone and have a bunch left over. Then Jesus shares about Himself:
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. Luke 9:7-9Remember that a theme in this chapter is Jesus helping people, especially His own disciples, understand who He is. Let’s look at some wrong perceptions that the people at the time of Jesus had about who He was.
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?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 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.” 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. 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. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 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. 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.” Luke 9:18-27
It was said by some that John had risen from the dead ... it was said by some that ... Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. Luke 9:7As Jesus performed these miracles, all kinds of opinions concerning who Jesus was were circulating. Three opinions seem to be most popular:
And it happened that while He was praying alone Luke 9:18We get another glimpse of what a priority prayer was for Jesus. This is another one of the many references to Jesus praying found in Luke's Gospel. In fact, Luke records more instances of Jesus praying and teaching about prayer than any other Gospel.
D. L. Moody was the "Billy Graham" of the second half of the 19th century. He spoke at evangelistic meetings throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain as well. Speaking of the importance of prayer, Moody once said:
"I'd rather be able to pray than to be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray."
Still in verse 18 Jesus asks:
“Who do the people say that I am?”
In verse 20 He asks “But who do you say that I am?”
Popular opinion is often wrong. All the guesses people were making about Jesus were off the mark. Jesus knows that how we respond to Him is determined by who we understand Him to be.
Peter answered, "The Christ of God." Luke 9:20This is a very important affirmation by Peter on behalf of all the disciples.
"Christ" is the English rendering of the Greek Χριστος [Christos], meaning 'anointed'. This is the meaning as Messiah which comes from the corresponding Hebrew term טָשִיחַ [mashiach], the "anointed one."
In the New Testament, christos is intimately linked with the Old Testament anointing and with the thread of the Old Testament teaching that a special Anointed One would come and set the world right. In the Old Testament, the word "anointed" is closely linked with two offices that of king, and that of high priest.
The word "messiah" is actually found very few times in the Bible (Daniel 9:25-26, John 1:41, John 4:25). The Greek word for "messiah" christos is usually translated “Christ”. So “Christ” is the Greek word which means “Messiah”. Both “Messiah” (Hebrew) and “Christ” (Greek) mean literally “the Anointed One”. The title “Christ” is used 54 times in the Gospels, over 520 times in the New Testament. It is found 12 times in the Gospel of Luke.
But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone. Luke 9:21The Life Application Study Bible says:
“Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ because at this point they didn’t fully understand the significance of that confession — nor would anyone else. Everyone still expected the Messiah to come as a conquering king. But even though Jesus was the Messiah, he still had to suffer, be rejected by the leaders, be killed, and rise from the dead. When the disciples saw all this happen to Jesus, they would understand what the Messiah had come to do. Only then would they be equipped to share the gospel around the world.”Jesus explains why not to tell anyone at this point in time.
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. Luke 9:22Note that one of the facts about Jesus is that He is The Son of Man, which He mentions here, but we will deal with later in the chapter. Jesus immediately follows Peter's affirmation by explaining what being the Messiah really meant. This explanation was very important because the Jews expected the Messiah to come and establish a political kingdom.
Matthew's account of these events adds the disciples' response to what Jesus says will happen to Him:
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Matthew 16:22Peter's response shows how radically different Jesus' plan was from their expectations. So deeply imbedded were these expectations that, even though Jesus would repeatedly foretell His death and resurrection, the disciples continued to refuse to accept it. This wouldn’t be the last time Jesus tried to prepare His disciples by telling them about His death and resurrection. In fact, even afterward, He was still reminding them that He had foretold these events.
All the Gospels record these teachings by Jesus but here is a list of all the references I found in Luke. He told them, but they still did not understand.
Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. Luke 9:44Back into our study in Chapter 9:
But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Luke 17:25
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” Luke 18:31-33
And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer...” Luke 22:15
“He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” Luke 24:6-7
And He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day...” Luke 24:46
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.” Luke 9:23Not only were the disciples wrong about what the future held for Jesus, they were also wrong about what the future held for them! Instead of glory and fame, Jesus called them to lives of self-denial and sacrifice.
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. 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. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 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. 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.” Luke 9:23-27He said to them all The requirements for discipleship are the same for everyone, then and now. We could do a whole Bible study on Luke 9:23 and the four verbs that Jesus uses to help us understand what it means to be His disciple:
If anyone wishes to come after Me...
Discipleship begins with a desire to follow Jesus. Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him, then or now. Throughout the gospels we see people responding with a desire to follow Him.
Brother Lawrence, a French monk who lived in the 1600’s, had a deep desire for the Lord. He prayed: “You know well that it is not Your gifts that I look for and desire, ... but it is You Yourself and I can be content with nothing less.”
...he must deny himself...
Self-denial is a big part of discipleship. Sadly, it’s a subject often neglected, even in churches today. As a culture, we don’t affirm this value very much. Rather, ours is the “me-generation”; rather than self-denial we hear the message of self-indulgence, especially from the media. What a contrast! The world says, “Indulge yourself”, but Jesus says, “Deny yourself”. Who do you think really has your best interests at heart?
Someone said, “There are many activities I must give up, not because they are particularly sinful, but rather because I desire to excel in following the Lord and in doing His will.” (Anonymous)
C. T. Studd, a great missionary of the early 1900’s, wrote: “If Jesus be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Though this particular phrase “deny yourself” is found only here (and in parallel passages in Matthew and Mark), the New Testament is filled with passages that emphasize that we must deny ourselves our own natural desires and preferences in order to follow Jesus. Here are a few.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. Romans 14:13...and take up his cross daily...
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. Romans 14:21
Everything is permissible for me--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age... Titus 2:12
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11
The next aspect of being Jesus’ disciple is death. Not physical death, but death just the same. Not a very appealing aspect of discipleship, is it? The Life Application Bible (notes) says:
“To take up the cross meant to carry your own cross to the place where you would be killed. Many Galileans had been killed that way by the Romans. Applied to the disciples, it meant to identify completely with Christ’s message, even if it meant death.”
John MacArthur says
“A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take upon himself...”
This is an important point: talking up your cross is voluntary; it involves a choice on our part, for the sake of Jesus and His work in the world. We often hear of some physical hardship or difficulty as being “a cross I have to bear”. But that isn’t what Jesus means. He’s not talking about hardships that come to everyone in the course of life; He’s speaking of the hardships we accept and endure for the sake of Christ, those that come because we choose to follow Him:
One of the Luke commentaries says:
“What are our crosses? They are not simply trials or hardships. ... Neither can we properly call an illness or a handicap a cross. A cross results from specifically walking in Christ’s steps, embracing His life ... Our crosses come from ... our dedication to Christ. Difficulties do not indicate cross-bearing, though difficulties for Christ’s sake do. Do we have any difficulties because we are closely following Christ?”
There are several other passages that speak of this same concept.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27
Billy Graham observed, “When Jesus said, ‘If you are going to follow me, you have to take up a cross," it was the same as saying, "Come and bring your electric chair with you. Take up the gas chamber and follow me.’ He did not have a beautiful gold cross in mind the cross on a church steeple or on the front of your Bible. Jesus had in mind a place of execution.”
...and follow Me.
Devotion is the fundamental characteristic of a disciple. This word “follow” is used over and over again. It’s the word used to describe the response of the disciples when they responded to Jesus’ call.
Jesus often spoke of the responsibility of His disciples to follow Him:
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12What do you think it means to follow Jesus?
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12:26
Charles Spurgeon said:
“He that would serve Christ must follow Him. He must be content to tread only in the old footsteps, and go only where Christ has led the way. It is not for you and me to be originals; we must be humble copies of Christ.”
Someone has said: “Lord, give me the desire to follow you joyfully (cross-bearing and all), so that I will never walk away sorrowfully.” (Anonymous)
Sacrifice is not a popular concept in our culture. We like to hear about passages that promise God's blessings health, happiness, prosperity. We're not so enthusiastic about sacrifice, self-denial, death to self! Jesus makes it clear that we are disciples on His terms, not ours.