We continue our way through the Gospel of Luke together in this article by looking at Luke 9:18-22. In the Gospel of Luke we have been confronted with the question, "Who is this Jesus?" Luke wants to get at this question with you and me because that question is a dividing question. There are two types of people in this world - those who have the right answer to that question and those who don't - those who have responded rightly and have identified correctly who Jesus is and thus have embraced Him and those who haven't, and so this question is of vital importance.

I want to direct your attention to three things in particular in this passage.

I. Jesus' Prayer

The first thing I want you to see in verse 18 is what Jesus was doing before this encounter happened. Seven times in the gospel of Luke, Luke shows you Jesus praying by Himself before some important event. Now, if Jesus needs to pray, how much more do we need to pray? But also, when you see Luke in this passage drawing your attention to Jesus' prayer one of the things that he's saying to you is, "Move up to the edge of your seat. Listen really carefully because something hugely important is about to happen, something of eternal significance is about to be shared here so listen very carefully."

II. The Disciples' Profession

A conversation is going on about who Jesus is and He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" and He gets different responses. The number one response seems to be that He's John the Baptist. Now understand that is a huge compliment because Jesus' Jewish contemporaries thought a lot of John the Baptist. They're giving Him a compliment. And then they said "Some people are saying that you're Elijah." Now again, that's a compliment. They're saying, "We think this may be the One who is the forerunner of the coming of the Lord." The problem was not that they were trying to disrespect Him, they actually weren't saying enough about Him.

And then they said, "Oh, and others are saying You're a mighty prophet." And again that was a compliment. To call him a prophet is not a word of disrespect. What higher thing could you say than that he stands in the train of Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah?

And after asking the disciples what people are saying about Him, then Jesus looks at them and asks - "But who do you all say that I am?"

My friends this is huge because in the end, Jesus doesn't care what His disciples know about what other people think about Him. He wants to know what His disciples think about Him. He's pointing them to a question of eternal significance. And Peter pipes up and responds for everybody else and he says point blank, "You're the Christ of God." And Jesus' response is, "Bingo! You're exactly right, Peter. You're exactly right. That is who I am."

Now notice in that little phrase, "the Christ of God." He's saying, "Jesus, You are the Messiah sent by God that we have been looking for since Genesis 3:15." Christ, you see, is just the English transliteration of the Greek word, Christos, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word, Messiah - Messiah, Anointed One. And so Peter is saying, "You're the Anointed One, promised by the prophets of old to be sent by God into this world to set all things right and to reconcile His people to Him. You're the Messiah of God."

And my friends, to own Jesus as Messiah and Lord is at the very heart of Christianity. And that's why Jesus is so zeroing in on this question with His disciples. He knows that there are all kinds of answers to that question around them. And there're all kinds of answers to that question around us today. There're all sorts of people who say, "You know, I so admire Jesus. He promoted justice and righteousness in society." Yes, is that all? "I so admire Jesus. He taught us how to love." True. Is that all? "I think Jesus is one of the greatest men ever to live." True. Is there any more? "I think He was a great moral prophet and He spoke truth to power." Yes. Anything else?

Jesus wants us to understand that our answer to that question means everything. Because He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Me."

Jesus is pressing that question home on His disciples so that they will take it in and consider it. And I want to press that question home on you today because there're all sorts of voices around you telling you who Jesus is. Who do you say that He is? That's the issue that's before us today.

III. Jesus' Passion

So there's prayer in verse 18, there's this profession, and then in verse 22 there's Jesus' passion.

You see, especially in the two hundred and fifty years or so before Jesus came, the Jewish people had been expected the Messiah to be a military and political liberator. The Messiah was going to come and get rid of the filthy Gentiles and the filthy, immoral, oppressive Romans. In other words, the Jewish people were expecting a Messiah who would kick the bums out. But Jesus knew that the Romans weren't the problem. We're all the problem - Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, oppressor and oppressed. The line between good and evil doesn't run between us and them, it runs down the center of every human heart.

And Jesus says to His disciples, "Now understand this, I am the Messiah, but I have come here to suffer and to be rejected and to die. Not to kick the bums out, but to suffer in your place." The minute Peter says, "You're the Messiah!" Jesus is saying, "Now Peter, you're right, but here's the bad news - every theologian you know in Israel is going to tell you you're wrong about what you just said. The chief priests, the elders of the synagogue and the scribes, the people who are experts in interpreting the Hebrew Bible, all of them are going to look you in the eye and say, 'Peter, you are out of your mind!' And in the end, I'm going to die and the reason that I'm going to die, suffer, and be rejected is not because a group of people got out of control, but because that's My Father's plan to save you. I'm going to experience the suffering that you should have experienced. And I'm going to do it so that every man, woman, boy, and girl from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation who says, 'Yes, Jesus. You are the Messiah,' will not only be pardoned and forgiven and welcomed back into the fold of God, but will be called a child of the living God and live with Him in glory and enjoyment both now and forevermore."

My friends, you may consider many important questions in your life - you will never consider a question more important that Jesus looking you in the eye and saying, "Who do you say that I am?"