The Power of Knowing Who Christ Is
Topic: Power of the Word Verse: Luke 9:18–9:22
“The Power of Knowing Who Christ Is”
Theme: Without the insight provided by grace, our impressions of Jesus fall short of what is needed to be saved.
I. The Interest of Christ – 9:18
A. The Intercession by the Lord
- It is interesting that the example of God the Son is to commune with the Father throughout a variety of life’s events and experiences.
- Prayer preceded major events as recorded by Luke:
- He prayed before the Father announced that He was His Son – Luke 3:21
- He prayed before choosing the twelve – Luke 6:12
- He prayed before feeding the 5,000 – Luke 9:16
- He will pray before the Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-29
- He will pray before teaching the disciples to pray – Luke 11:1
- He will pray before being arrested & crucified – Luke 22:21ff
- In our text for today, we see that Jesus prayed before addressing the issue of the confession of faith that will serve as the foundation for the construction of His Church – “And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him …”
- Jesus was not willing to conduct His life on some sort of autopilot but demonstrated a sustained dependency upon the Father to direct Him as Jesus navigated through the various trials, challenges, decisions, and opportunities that His ministry provided Him.
- It appears that the contradiction of Him being “alone,” [μόνος] and “the disciples were with Him” – was that He was praying by Himself and once again, the disciples found Him and approached Him.
- It appears that knowing the will of God that He mentor the disciples into an awareness of Jesus’ true identity, Jesus’ prayer at this time was an intercession for the disciples - that their insight would be provided by the Father.
- This demonstrates that Jesus desired that others come to know who He is – that the truth be something that is registered firmly among those who would serve as the foundation of the Church.
- As we will see, this is a major point of truth moving forward after the Resurrection.
B. The Inquiry by the Lord
- As the disciples approach Him, Jesus rises from His prayers for them and immediately addresses the issue on His mind – “… and He questioned them, saying, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’”
- We are told by Matthew, that Jesus chose the place of this inquiry to be where idolatry was most renown – in the location of Caesarea Philippi the location of the worship of the Greek god Pan and only a few miles from the ancient city of Dan, the northernmost point of ancient Israel, renown for its struggle with idolatry – cp. Matthew 16:13.
- Jesus “questioned them” [ἐπηρώτησεν] – that is, He made an inquiry (Aorist Act Ind.) – and apparently it was necessary for Him to ask several times before finally several of them responded – cp. Matthew 16:13
- In essence, He is saying … “The people clearly do not accept me as the saving Messiah, the One who has come in fulfillment of prophecy to provide them spiritual salvation; therefore, since they are confused about who I really am, what are the most popular misperceptions?”
- He thus acknowledged their confusion and desires to bring the disciples to a final and definitive decision as to His real identity.
- What does Jesus’ example in praying before significant events teach us?
- One of Jesus’ roles is to intercede for us before the Father; what area in your life right now would He be bringing before the Father for you?
- Why is Jesus so interested in who people say He is?
II. The Impressions of the Lost – 9:19
A. The Popular Perspectives
- “They answered and said, …” - It is interesting that our text informs us that several of them provided answers – likely each one piped up and offered a different option.
- Their answers corresponded to the summary provided by Herod in His fear as He heard of Jesus’ disciples preaching about Him in their ministry internships that we discussed in v. 7.
- The most popular perspectives all featured one element of Jesus reputation:
- Message – “John the Baptist …” – repeating the message that was the same between Jesus and John – repentance from sin and consecration to the Messiah in light of the Kingdom of God – cp. Matthew 3:2; 4:17
- Miracles – “others say Elijah …” – since Elijah had done so many miracles and had never died; and, that it was prophesied that He would return as a forerunner of the Messiah, many thought Jesus was the fulfillment – cp. Malachi 4:5; Matthew 11:14; 17:9-13
- Ministry – “but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” – Matthew informs us that the specific prophet considered as Jeremiah – Matthew 16:14 – because of the apocryphal book where legend said that Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense out of the Temple and hid them on Mt. Nebo in order to preserve them from the Babylonians; and, that he would return before the Messiah came to restore them to the Temple.
- It is interesting that these speculations to the identity of Christ included a resurrection of one sort or another – a Satanic preparation to discredit or mystify the reality of the actual resurrection.
B. A Profane Perspective
- The great problem with each of the conclusions that had been drawn as to who Jesus was fell short of recognizing Him for who He actually is.
- The tragedy of each of these popular opinions was that Jesus was thought to merely be resurrected Old Testament personality who was a forerunner – they all failed to identify Him as the Son of God or the Messiah.
- This is the condition of most people today – they fail to realize that Jesus is not merely a marvelous teacher delivering a message, or a great miracle worker, or even a servant of God with a ministry like the prophets of old.
- What is needed is to desist in attempting to avoid the truth of His identity and drop humbly before Him acknowledging that He IS God – the Savior of men.
- All such opinions fail to bring saving faith in the Son of God who came to redeem sinners from the penalty, power, and presence of sin.
- Why do the perspectives of people not truly define who Jesus is?
- Often we choose to emphasize aspect of Jesus to which we are most individually attracted – why does that approach to Jesus fall short?
- Why is it tragic for people to misidentify the Lord Jesus Christ?
III. The Insight of Grace – 9:20-22
A. The Confession of Faith
- Having prayed for them and solicited from them the popular, profane views of who He is, gives them the opportune moment to confess Him – “And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’”
- Two indicators of the merciful coaching by Christ in this question:
- First, the use of an adversative “But …” [δέ]
- Second, the use of the emphatic position of “you” – literally: “But you, [pl. = as a group] who do you [pl. = all] say I am?”
- We are told that Peter is the one who provided Jesus with their collective and apparently previously discussed answer: “And Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’”
- “The Christ …” [τὸν χριστὸν] – acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah – the anointed One who was promised of old – the One who would come and save men from sin – cp. Luke 2:11, 26; 4:18, 41; 23:2
- “… of God” – acknowledges that God Himself is the One who had sent Him and that Jesus was not self-anointed.
- This was a confession that is beyond the grasp of human intellect and comprehension – it is something that is too wonderful for men to grasp without the clear revelation from God – cp. Matthew 16:17
- This seems to be the moment when this confession crystallized in the minds of the disciples – a moment of great grace that provided them the spiritual discernment of such magnitude – cp. 1 Corinthians 2:14
- It is the very truth that Satan seeks to conceal by blinding the minds of the unsaved lest they see the light of the Gospel – 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
- As such, this confession of faith in Jesus as the One sent from the Father as the anointed Messiah to redeem men from their sins is the confession that serves as the foundation for the church.
B. The Consummation of Faith
- However, Jesus immediately “warns” them not to disclose this truth at this time – “But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, …”
- “warned” [ἐπιτιμάω] - to express strong disapproval or to reprove someone; it is an indication that they would be straying from propriety with necessary consequences if they were to speak of this truth.
- “instructed” [παραγγέλλω] – to announces something that must be done – to give orders or commands.
- They were not to tell anyone about Jesus’ true identity because of the way that it would affect the divine purpose for redemption.
- There had already been an attempt to forcibly come and make Jesus King – if it were widespread that He was the Messiah, it might cause an even greater effort to coronate Him.
- Jesus’ priority was not to become King, but was to redeem sinful man and this was His committed course of action – “… 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.’”
- The use of the term “must suffer …” demonstrates that this is the essential purpose of God for His life – to take upon Himself the suffering that all sinners deserve.
- There are four infinitives that summarize the plan of God for Jesus role in redemption:
- “suffer” [πάσχω] (Aor. Act. Inf.) - a reference to all the mischief perpetrated against Him through His trial – the slapping, beating, spitting, beard plucking, the lashing, the crown of thorns, the thirst, the exhaustion, - essentially all that Jesus endured.
- “be rejected” [ἀποδοκιμάζω] (Aor. Pass. Inf.) – to be regarded as unworthy or unfit and therefore discarded.
- “be killed” [ἀποκτείνω] (Aor. Pass. Inf.) – lit. = “to be deprived of life,” or to be put to death
- “be raised up” [ἐγείρω] (Aor. Pass. Inf.) – to cause someone to awaken, to raise, to cause someone to get up
- All that Jesus will passively endure at the hands of sinners, will be corrected by the action of the Father in the resurrection.
- Are your spiritual perspectives forged upon the revelation of God in the Scripture? What is your favored verse revealing the identity of Jesus Christ as your own Savior.
- Discuss what makes the Gospel truly good news – what do you think is the key?
- What difference does the Holy Spirit make in your ability to both believe and share the Gospel?