Who is Jesus – Luke 9:18-20
The Cost of Identifying with Christ: What is the cost to identify yourself with Jesus? To recognize Him not just as being a man but as The Christ of God. The cost is immense, it’s so unbearable that it can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. I heard a quote one time, “I don’t mind being a servant of Jesus Christ, I just don’t want to be treated like one.” The treatment of the followers of Jesus is hard, it’s cruel and not enjoyable in the least. In fact, if you would like to know how hard it is to profess Jesus as the Christ you should try some daily evangelism. The issue in our culture is that we have labeled any type of persecution for declaring the Gospel of Christ as the wrong approach. Let me explain, someone goes out to evangelize on the street openly declaring the state of all man kind in sin and to call men to repentance (as Jesus did). Many times after severe persecution is observed well meaning people will tell that evangelist that his approach is wrong because he’s receiving back lash and the like.
Let’s see what Jesus did: When Jesus started His ministry He went out and began preaching repentance and that people should believe in the Gospel.
Mark 1:14-15 ESV … Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus knew what needed to be done. He knew that the cost of calling people to repentance would be great, especially when it was primarily focused on the crowd who believed themselves to be in already. The church crowd. Okay, so that was Jesus, what about us? Let’s look at what the disciples did on their very first mission after being schooled by Jesus in the way of the ministry.
Mark 6:12 ESV … So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.
After Jesus calls His disciples together, instructs them and sends them out, they leave and proclaim that people should repent. Repentance in many circles has almost been outlawed. We’ve replaced calling sinful people (like us) to repentance and replaced it with calling them “hurting people who need a band-aid”. Honestly I know how this sounds. Right now you may be thinking, “This guy is a hater and has no love.” I’m sure these disciples would have preferred in the natural to go home, put their feet up, sip some tea and have a lot of BBQ’s in their back yard trying to win people over with cookies and milk. But instead they went out into the streets and proclaimed the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Spirit of grace. There are many ways in which people come to faith in Christ, but none that are without a face to floor encounter in repentance toward God and then trust in the Savior.
Acts 20:21 ESV … testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Has Some Questions for You: Now to our actual text. Jesus went to pray alone and the disciples joined Him. He then asked them two very important questions:
Luke 9:18-20 ESV … 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?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
The first question Jesus asks is, “Who do the crowds say that I am?,” and their response to Him was interesting. “Some people say that you are John the Baptist that has been raised from the dead.” I have often heard preaching about Jesus as this nice, quite and timid man that went around patting babies on the head and blessing them. Although Jesus was gentle in His approach He was far from timid. From what Scripture tells us about John the Baptist we imagine Him as a wild man, dressed in furs, eating insects and yelling at the top of his lungs as he called people to repentance. This is the picture I see as well. So the statement “some people say that you are John the Baptist that has been raised from the dead” paints a whole new picture of the way Jesus approached people. Being compared to John the Baptist was painting Him as a voice in the wilderness calling people to come to repentance before God and trust Him alone as their only hope. Others said He was other Prophets, and as we read all through Scripture that the true prophets spoke things that made people angry because they were dealing with the sins of mankind.
Luke 6:22-26 ESV … “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Jesus was teaching earlier in Luke about how people who are declaring the Gospel will be persecuted, and that we should be glad in that because we are declaring the name of Christ. On the contrast he warns us in verse 26 that if all people speak well of us we are in danger of being false witnesses; declaring something that is more palatable to the unconverted world. Our job as representatives of Jesus Christ is to declare the Gospel to everyone, everywhere. This task includes speaking to people directly about their sin and the need for repentance and faith in the Christ of God.
A not so Popular Message: It’s not very trendy these days to speak to people about sin and the need for Christ. People in our world have many different ideas of who Christ is as well. Some say, “Good teacher”or “Prophet”or “Fake”or “Son of God, but not God”. There are many ways people see Jesus. Our job is to help them see Him as “Wrath Remover” & “Curse Remover”.
Galatians 3:13 … Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
The curse of the the Law is death and hell. We need to speak with people and plead with them about the wages of their sin, the payment they deserve, calling them to repentance and plead with them to trust the Savoir.
Who do you say that I am?: Jesus then asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” To get this right was a death sentence and they knew it. Peter rightly responds and calls Him “The Christ of God.” Peter says this in verse 20 and directly following in verse 23 Jesus begins teaching on picking up your cross, losing your life, being unashamed of who He is, etc. The cost of understanding who Jesus really is, is huge. The call to identify with Christ is the call to be his ambassador, to proclaim unashamedly who He is and what He requires of all men.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV … The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Grace & Peace,