Saturday, April 22, 2023

Who is Jesus? Luke 9:7-9, 18-22 - April 23, 2023

 Luke 9:7-9, 18-22 Who is Jesus?

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter nine, page 866 in the pew Bibles. We are going to be doing our study a little differently this morning in that we are going to look at two different small sections of Luke nine that address one issue while skipping over verses 10-17 which we will look at next time. So we are going to look at verses 7-9 and then 18-22.

And as we look at these verses we are going to consider the most important question ever asked. There are lots of important, life-altering questions that have been asked like, which way to the bathroom, and, do you want to marry me or what?

But the question that we are going to consider this morning is a more important question and it is a question that every person must answer and undoubtedly will have to answer on the Day of Judgment: Who is Jesus?

And in our text this morning we are going to see the answers to that question given by Herod, the crowds, the disciples, and Jesus Himself.

Let’s look at Luke nine.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

And skip down to verse 18.

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Let’s pray.

So after Jesus had sent the Twelve out into the villages of Galilee word reached all the way into the halls of government that something was going on, that some new teacher was out there stirring things up. The word was out and everybody had an opinion about Jesus.

Herod the Tetrarch was the son of Herod the Great and he was in charge of the district of Galilee for the Romans. He had often had John the Baptist come and speak to him out of a sense of morbid curiosity but at the request of his wife and daughter had him beheaded in prison.

So when people started saying that John was once again preaching and teaching in Galilee he started to get concerned. In fact, he was scared of ghosts. Herod’s guilty conscience prompted him to wonder if John had come back to get him.

Those around him were telling him all different ideas about who Jesus might be but it only further perplexed Herod. He kind of wanted to know who Jesus was, he kind of wanted to see Jesus himself but he wouldn’t get down off his high horse to seek Him out. Whether it was fear, or pride, or indifference, Herod wasn’t willing to go find out for sure.

So Herod’s answer to the question: Who is Jesus? Remained: I don’t know, I might like to know but I’m not really willing to do anything to find out for sure.

I think we all know people like this still today. I’m curious about who Jesus is but I’m not willing to go where I might actually find out. Whatever their reasons really are fear, or pride, or indifference they won’t come and find out who Jesus is.

Herod, of course, did finally meet Jesus as we read in Luke 23:7-11.

And when [Pilate] learned that [Jesus] belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.

Herod was curious but eventually rejected Jesus, mocking Him and treating Him with contempt though He had done nothing wrong.

So leaving verses 7-9 let’s skip ahead to verses 18-22.

Herod settled for answering: I don’t know who Jesus is. Next let’s look at who the crowds said Jesus was in verses 18-19.

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”

So what was the public opinion of Jesus? This was the voice of the masses, the voice of flesh and blood. 

Some said that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, after all, how could such a great man of God be taken away forever? That’s just not fair!

Some said that He was Elijah returned from heaven in his chariot of fire. Malachi 4:5-6, the last verses of the Old Testament say: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Others said that one of the other prophets of old had risen from the dead. It was clear that popular opinion held that Jesus was definitely neither ordinary nor insignificant. He was a messenger of God for sure, but still nobody was saying that He might actually be Messiah.

There are still plenty of people today that will agree that Jesus was a great teacher and a person of great historical importance without actually placing their faith in Him. How we designate our years are based on the life of Jesus: BC means Before Christ, and AD Annio Dominae, the year of our Lord, though folks are trying to wipe that away by using the expression, “Before Common Era and After Common Era.”

So Jesus turns to the disciples to ask them the question directly, “Who do you say that I am?”

And of course Peter speaks up on behalf of the disciples and says, in verse 20, “You are the Christ of God.”

To be clear, the word, Christ, and the word, Messiah, mean the same thing. Christ is a Greek word, it’s not Jesus’ last name, and Messiah is a Hebrew word, and they both mean: Anointed One.

What’s interesting to me is that this confession of faith by Peter on behalf of the disciples was not based on complete understanding, they didn’t fully comprehend what Jesus’ work on earth would really entail. All they knew was that Jesus was indeed Messiah, the Christ of God, and at this point that simple faith was enough. It was saving faith.

In response to this confession, which, though incomplete, was the right answer to the question: Who is Jesus, Jesus gives the disciples some strange instructions and then answers the question Himself.

Look at verse 21. 21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one,

Doesn’t this seem a little strange? Why would Jesus tell them not to tell anybody that he was indeed the long awaited Messiah? Isn’t that what He wanted people to know so that they could trust in Him and be saved?

Well, eventually yes, just not yet.

JJ vanOosterzee put it this way, “There existed a little congregation in which the faith on Jesus as the Christ was the center of its union. If this community, with its manner of thinking, manifested itself externally, it would here have found premature adherents, and here roused renewed opposition.”

In other words, if everybody believed that Jesus was Messiah at this point He would not be able to do the work that He came to do. The people may have carried him to Jerusalem and put Him on the throne instead of Jesus carrying Him cross through Jerusalem to be crucified outside the city.

And that brings us to Jesus’ answer to the question, who is Jesus?

In verse 22, Jesus said: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Jesus’ answer to the question was that He is the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53 and that His work as Messiah was far greater than just teaching and healing.

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind. He is the only one who could give His perfect life in our place on the cross. That was His purpose here on earth.

Jesus is Messiah. Jesus is the Christ of God. Jesus is Lord. That’s the answer to the question.