Sunday, February 21, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Who Is Jesus?"

“Who Is Jesus?” Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
February 21, 2010
Luke 9:1-36

The name of the sermon series that we have been in together now since school started, this is the 19th message in it, the name of our current series is “Certain of Jesus.”  

Luke wrote his gospel to help people like “most excellent Theophilus” and most excellent Lanse Free Church, to be certain that they know Jesus.

All along Luke, with his stories about Jesus’ life and ministry, has been answering the question that is the title of today’s message, “Who Is Jesus?”

What is Jesus’ true identity?

Who is this person that this gospel is all about?

“Who is this Jesus?”

In chapter 9, Luke presses home that question and provides a very clear answer.  In many ways, it is the culmination of what we’ve seen so far, and it’s also the turning point in the book, the turning point in the book.

“Who Is Jesus?”

Luke chapter 9 begins with a short-term missions trip.

Jesus sends out his apostles on a short-term missions trip.  Verses 1 through 6.

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He told them: ‘Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.  Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.’  So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.”

Now, this was a different kind of short term missions trip than the ones that we normally go on today.

For one thing, Jesus Himself sent them with power and authority to drive out demons and cure diseases.  I’m not sure exactly how that worked, but it was particularly apostolic!  They had 2 parts to their mission–preach the kingdom and heal the sick.

And what were they allowed to take with them?  Not much!

No staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no cell phone, no passport, no extra tunic.

Travel light.  Go as you are.


Well, for one thing, this was supposed to be a quick missions trip.  Very quick.  They were to go out and then come back.  This was “short term” for real!

Second, it caused the Twelve to have to trust God, didn’t it?  They were going to have trust people, staying in their homes, and trust God to provide at each step.

And everywhere they went, they were to supposed to talk about the Kingdom of God and the Gospel as they healed people.  And they were also calling for decisions.

There is no neutrality.  You either receive them and their message or you reject them and their message.  And when they were rejected, they were supposed to mark that rejection by shaking the dust off their feat.  “Good riddance.

You’re either in or out.

Now, this short term missions trip had the effect of getting the word out on the street about Jesus.

In fact, the word spread so fast and far that it got all the way to Herod.  V.7

“Now Herod the tetrarch [son of Herod the great whom we learned about when Jesus was born early in this book, Herod the tetrarch] heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life.  But Herod said, ‘I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?’ And he tried to see him.”

“Who Is Jesus?”

That’s the question of the day.  It’s the same question that His own disciples were asking last week when then saw in that boat what He could do to that storm.

“Who Is Jesus?”

We know that He’s called Jesus, but who is He?  He sounds supernatural.  Is John back from the dead? Is He Elijah who was predicted to come?  Is He one of the Old Testament prophets come back?  Isaiah?  Jeremiah? Joel?  Daniel?  Ezekiel?

Who is this Jesus?

That’s a question that everyone has to answer for themselves.

Who do you think Jesus is?

Because, what you think about Jesus will determine what you do with your life.

If you think that He is insignificant, you will run your life one way.

If you think that He is all important, you will run your life a whole other way.

If you think that Jesus is a cruel taskmaster who wants to rob you of your joy, then you will live your life a certain way.

If you think that Jesus is the great thing ever then it will change your life.

Who Is Jesus?

Luke goes straight from that question to a miracle story that gives a dramatic demonstration of the answer.  V.10

“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.”

More of the same thing that He had had His disciples do.  Ministry of the word and deed.

And it went on and on all day.  V.12

“Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.’ [They are out in the middle of nowhere. And there is nothing to eat..]  He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish–unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’”

Now, we all know this story. If you don’t know this story, I’m impressed!

This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that appears in all four of the gospels.  So, it’s really the most famous miracle of Jesus’ outside of the resurrection.

What’s it about?

What’s He going to do?

He’s going to feed them, isn’t He?  All of them?  V.14

“(About five thousand men were there.[Not counting women and children!]) But he said to his disciples, ‘Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’  The disciples did so, and everybody sat down.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”

What is this story about?

It’s not a story, primarily, about “sharing.”  Yes, we know from John’s gospel that the five loaves and two fish were from a little boy who shared his lunch.

That’s great, but it’s not the main point.

It’s not a story, primarily, about “praying before meals.”  Yes, Jesus does that.  Yes, it’s a good idea.  I recommend it. 

But that’s not the main point.

The main point of this story is giving a dramatic demonstration of “Who Jesus Is!”

“Who is Jesus?”

Well, Who is the One that provides bread in the wilderness for God’s people?

Does this story remind you of any other stories?

Food in the wilderness?  In case we missed it: Twelve basketfuls.  Twelve.

This is about Someone Who provides for the needs of God’s people, miraculously!  Out of almost nothing!  Creating food!

Who is Jesus?

Well, that’s the question that Jesus Himself asks in verse 19.

“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’”

Jesus says, “Let’s take an opinion poll.  What do the crowds say?  Who am I?”

V.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.’”

Does that sound familiar?  That sounds like what the people were telling Herod.

That’s the word on the street.

What is the word on the street in 2010?

Who Is Jesus?

Maybe a religious leader?
Maybe a great teacher?
Maybe a legend, someone who never actually lived.  It’s all made up.
Maybe the husband of Mary Magdalene, if you believe Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code books?

Who do the crowds say Jesus is?

Every Christmas time and every Easter season, Jesus makes it onto the cover of Time or Newsweek or a magazine like that, and there is some new theory on Who He is.

The most recent one I remember said that Jesus was as a very rich man, very prosperous, a billionaire by today’s standards who, of course, wants His people to be rich, as well!

Who do your friends think Jesus is?

A good person who did good things?

A magical person who sometimes shows up now and does magical things, but has little direct connection with our lives today?

If you were to ask the person at the desk next to you at the office, the locker next to you at school, across your neighbor’s fence, what would they say?

Who Is Jesus?

I read about a recent “man on the street” interview with a number of regular people asking them who they thought Jesus is:

Here are some of their answers:

    I don’t really have an opinion of Jesus I believe that religion was created to control the masses.

    He was a dude lived back in the day pretty awesome he had a beard.

    I think that he is a pretty cool guy he had a peaceful philosophy I think he’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.

    I don’t know because I don’t really believe in him so I don’t really think anything of him.

    I mean he could have been a real person I mean I am sure he was I mean I am sure he was just good at what he did or something.

    I kind of feel that Jesus is a modern day scapegoat.

    Jesus is God I think, yeah, I just learned that.

    Jesus was a man from what I figure.

    He was just kind of a guy with a really unique positive message that kind of gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

    He probably existed but I don’t believe he was the Son of God or anything.

Who Is Jesus?

Jesus makes it personal in verse 20.

“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’”

That’s the real question, isn’t it?  “Who do you say I am?”

“Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’”


The Messiah.  The word Christ is the Greek word for Messiah.

The Promised One.  The Anointed One.

The Christ of God!

Peter got an A+ for this answer.  He had finally been able to put a few things together (like 12 basketsful, like wind and waves obeying Him, like the miracles and all of the fulfilments of Old Testament promises), and he says it right.

Jesus Is the Christ of God.  The Christ from God.

V.21 “Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.”



Here’s why.  Because they didn’t yet understand what that meant.  What “Christ of God” meant!

They had an idea of a Messiah that isn’t all wrong.  But it was missing the most important thing.

Jesus is the Christ of God SENT TO SUFFER DIE AND RISE AGAIN.

They didn’t yet understand what Jesus is about to explain in verse 22. 

This is the first time in Luke’s gospel when Jesus makes His mission crystal clear.

They don’t get it yet, but He makes it crystal clear with these words (v.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.’”

Now, that doesn’t surprise us because our church loves the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We love that story because we know our salvation comes from it!

But this “did not compute” for the disciples.

They could not wrap their minds around the idea of a suffering messiah.

The Christ of God had to suffer?

I thought that The Christ of God was going to make others suffer!  Like those stinking Romans! Like that foxy Herod?

The Christ of God had to be rejected?
The Christ of God had to be killed?

I don’t get it.  Why would He have to be raised to life?

Why would He have to be killed in the first place?

That’s why they weren’t supposed to tell anyone that Jesus was the Christ of God.

He is the Christ of God, but they (and those they would tell) wouldn’t be able to truly understand what that means.

This is the turning point in the book of Luke.

From now on, there is going to be a steady march towards Jerusalem and fulfillment of this prophecy and living out of this mission.

The Christ of God Sent To Suffer, Die, and Rise Again.

Is that Who You Say Jesus Is?

If so, how do you respond with your life?

Two points of application:

#1.  Trust in the Christ of God For Your Salvation.

This suffering is for a reason.  It’s to save people from God’s wrath against their sin.

This rejection was to serve the purpose of salvation.

His death is substitutionary. He took our place!

And He came back to life to give us life.

Trust in the Christ of God for your salvation.

I say that every week.  You know why?

Because it’s true.  And because we all need it.
Jesus wasn’t just a good man with a beard.

He wasn’t just a good teacher.

He is the Savior!  And He wants to save people like you and me!

Trust in the Christ of God for your salvation.

More than that: #2. Unashamedly Follow Him in Daily Death

Listen to verses 23.

“Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Jesus isn’t just looking for believers.  He is looking for followers.

And followers who die a little bit every day. 

They deny themselves and their own agenda.

They put down their agendas and take up His.

And sometimes, often, it feels like a little bit of death.

Like a daily crucifixion. But that’s where life is!

Paradoxically, life comes from this kind of death.  V.24

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

If you try to hold onto your life and your plans and your agenda and your schedule and your possessions and your little idols, you will lose them.

But if you put that aside and follow Him, take up a cross, then you will save your life!

Verse 25.  “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

No good at all!

This is where life is at.

It doesn’t seem like it.  It will feel at times, regularly, that you are dying.

But that’s how Jesus got His life!

Unashamedly Follow Him in Daily Death.

Unashamedly.  V.26

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

That’s what’s on the line here.

Do you want Jesus to be ashamed of you when He comes in glory?

Don’t be ashamed of Him now.

Trust Him for Salvation.
And follow Him into a daily death.

Death to self. Death to sin. Death to selfishness.

Life in Him.

Jesus is the Christ of God.

I don’t know what that daily death might look like for you.

Maybe it’s repentance from some very tempting sin.
Maybe it’s choosing love over hate in a relationship that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
Maybe it’s just getting up and doing it all over again today.  Being faithful in the little  mundane things.

Whatever it is, He’s calling you to it.

The Christ of God is calling you to unashamedly follow Him in a daily death.

He died for you!  Will you die for Him?

In verse 26, Jesus talked about His glorious return when the Kingdom comes in its fullness.  What a day that will be.

In verse 27, Jesus says that some of His disciples would see it with their own eyes.  V.27

“I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’”

And, I think that the last story in this section (verses 28-36) are the fulfillment of that prediction–at least in preview.  V.28

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure [literally “His exodus”], which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.  Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)  While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’  When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.”

Who Is Jesus?


Jesus is the Christ of God sent to suffer, die, and rise again.

But more than that: Jesus is the Very Son of God.

God said so Himself.

This is an amazing story!

Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray and He is transfigured.

He is metamorphasized.

He is changed.

And what do they see?  They see His glorious splendor.

His face shines like lightning.

They can’t even handle what they see–they fall asleep.

He is visited by Moses and Elijah?  Why them?

Moses is probably the Law. And Elijah is the Prophets.


Again, what are they talking about? Jesus, Moses, and Elijah?

The gospel. The coming “departure” in Jerusalem.

His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

Peter doesn’t understand and tries to set up some tents.

And then a cloud appears and envelopes them. And they are up on a mountain in a cloud.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Moses back on Mount Sinai?

God is going to speak.  He is going to give the 10 Commandments again?

No, He’s going to say, “This is my Son. Listen to Him.”

Here are two applications.

#1.  Worship the Glorious Son of God.

As I was meditating on this passage this week in preparation for this message, this is what struck me the most:

This glory that came from Jesus, was His glory.

This is was what He really is shining through!

He is glorious!   And worthy of our worship.

Worship in singing!

And Worship in taking up our crosses and following Him.

Worship the Glorious Son of God.

And...just like His father said, "Listen to Him."

Whatever He says is what is true.
Whatever He asks is what we give Him.
Whatever He offers is what we receive.

Listen to Jesus.  He is the Son of God.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord