Luke 9:18-27 - Who Do You Say That He Is?

Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:56
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Who is Jesus?
Well according to some research over the past few years, there is a great divide between what Americans believe about Jesus and what the Bible teaches about Jesus.
52% of Americans answered that He was a great teacher but isn’t God per a survey conducted by Ligonier Ministries in 2020 (1).
According to a Barna study from 2015, 52% of Americans believe that Jesus committed sins like any other person does. Yet this same study shows that 62% of adults said that they had made a personal commitment to Jesus and that their commitment to Him is still important in their life today (2). We must ask ourselves, what Jesus did they commit to?
Only 41% of adults who responded to a survey by Lifeway believed that Jesus existed before being born in Bethlehem in their 2021 study (3). This hits at the heart of the Trinity as well as the rest of Scriptural teaching showing that Jesus is eternal.
Throughout our study in the Gospel of Luke, Luke has continually introduced this question throughout his narrative. Who is Jesus? Herod asked who this man was (Luke 9:9). The Pharisees have asked this as Jesus has personally offered forgiveness of sins (Luke 7:49). The disciples have asked this question as they have watched Him calm a raging storm (Luke 8:25). This question repeatedly comes up throughout the Gospel.
And this question continues to come up today as well. Who is Jesus? Many people today claim to worship Jesus. There is a ton of Christian merchandise that people wear that bears the name of Jesus. People commonly sport crosses on their clothing and on jewelry. There are many bands - even some secular ones - that sing about Jesus. There are political leaders that mention the name of Jesus.
But sadly, many people don’t really know who Jesus is. They know the name, but they don’t know who He is and what He has done for them. They don’t understand His deity. They don’t understand His commands. And they don’t understand the cost of discipleship - the cost of following Him.
Many people are all in when they think it is an easy road. But when they more fully realize who Jesus really is and what He commands for His followers, they quickly desert the path.
As we go through our Scripture today, I want you to ask yourself the following question and answer it honestly…
Who do you say that He is?
Read Full Scripture:
Luke 9:18–27 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.” And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 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.” And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Today we will address three separate questions that each of us needs to personally answer in regard to Jesus Christ. The first is…

I. Have You Recognized the Savior? (18-22)

Luke 9:18–19 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.”
Mark lets us know the location of this conversation in Mark 8:27. They had arrived at Caesarea Philippi which was about 15-20 miles from the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Here we see Jesus praying again before a big event. He is about to ask the disciples a very hard question, and He is in prayer and communing with the Father.
May we take notes and learn from Jesus here. We need to be sure to be in prayer continually, but we need to be in even deeper prayer before big decisions and events. We need to seek the will of the Lord as we prepare for big decisions.
We see that the disciples were with Him. We aren’t told if they were praying alongside Him or if they were just hanging out while He prayed. But He stops praying for a moment and asks them His first of two questions. This one is not the hard one. He asks them who the crowds say that He is.
They answer quickly with some of the guesses and assumptions that they had heard from the crowd. Maybe John the Baptist, Elijah, or another prophet of old who has arisen?
Obviously we can see that the crowds had not truly recognized Jesus. They thought they had a good grasp on who Jesus was, but they were far off from Whom they were really seeing. Their preconceived ideas and notions kept them from seeing Jesus for who He really is.
Isn’t this an issue today brothers and sisters? The cultural lens of inclusivity and humanism can quickly airbrush the Jesus of the Bible. Airbrushing is a form of photography that covers up any supposed blemishes that the photographer sees. Many of today’s church leaders and even so-called believers participate in airbrushing the Jesus of the Bible and His teachings. They see the exclusivity of the Gospel and the commands of God as blemishes in the Bible and blemishes on Jesus, and so they airbrush them with comments that deny the truths of the Bible.
In an effort to not offend the world, they instead offend the Son of God. They present Jesus as someone who is unrecognizable in light of Scripture. They present a Jesus that is nothing other than an idol that they have created in their own mind. And more often than not, the Jesus that they have created in their minds looks a whole lot more like themselves and a whole lot less like the Jesus of the Bible.
Moving forward, Jesus asks the truly pressing question that is on His mind…
Luke 9:20 ESV
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
We are told in Matthew 16:17-19 that this truth was revealed by God to Peter. This was not something that would be understood apart from the revealing work of God. Spiritually dead persons are unable to discern the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). But God, being rich in mercy, draws men to Himself and reveals the Gospel to sinful man. Praise be to God for His kindness in this.
Time fails us today to be able to go into Matthew 16:17-19 in depth. I do see it as important for you to realize that this is the section of Scripture that the Catholic Church has taken to refer to Peter as to the first Pope. They have wrongly assumed that the rock on which Christ would build His church was Peter. And because of this, they have ascribed more and more authority to the Pope going so far as to ascribe infallibility to the Pope in 1870 which teaches that he is without error during any time that he speaks in an official role as Pope.
Time would fail me to give an adequate response to this false teaching of papal authority, but the Scriptures certainly do not support this authority and position.
Yet this is not what Luke decides to focus in on.
Luke focuses in on Peter’s answer to the question. And Peter answers the question correctly. The Christ of God.
The word Christ is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew title Messiah which means ‘Anointed One.’
Peter has recognized that Jesus is the Son of God - the Messiah.
In essence, Peter has said that Jesus is everything the people of God had been waiting for.
Theologian R. Kent Hughes makes the following assertion…
“What we think about Jesus is everything.”
R. Kent Hughes
Who do you say that He is? Obviously, God is still God even if you don’t believe in Him. Jesus is still truly God and truly man even if you don’t believe it to be so. Your beliefs and feelings have no bearing on the truth despite what our confused post-modern world believes. Yet, what you believe about Jesus is the most important thing about you. There is no quality about your personhood that is more important than what you believe about Jesus Christ.
Again, our question for today arises - who do you say that He is?
Jesus replies back to Peter in an interesting way in verses 21-22…
Luke 9:21–22 ESV
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 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.”
He charges the disciples to keep this understanding of His Messianic fulfillment quiet. Some of you might read this and be confused because we are post-resurrection followers, and we have the Great Commission which tells us to go into all the world and spread the Gospel about Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20)!
But, as we saw at the beginning of this message, the crowd was clueless about who Jesus really was. Most were not true believers in Jesus. And Jesus didn’t want loyal, unregenerate pawns who would support an overthrow of the Roman government - which would have been the move they would have wanted to make likely leading to a swift and untimely execution of Jesus before the appointed time.
Instead, He revealed the truth of who He was in His own timing because He wanted and continues to want saved followers who wholly trust and believe in Him.
My friends, have you recognized the Savior? And even more importantly…
Scripture References: Luke 9:9, Luke 7:49, Luke 8:25, Mark 8:27, Matthew 16:17-19, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Galatians 2:11-14, Matthew 28:16-20

II. Have You Responded to the Savior? (23-25)

Luke 9:23 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
After this revealing of His coming death the cross, Jesus starts by giving a difficult call to those who would follow him.
We see two extremely difficult commands here.
The first command in order to follow Christ is that one must deny himself.
This is the part of Jesus’ call that keeps most people from following Him. For one to deny himself, he must exercise humility. This is the first barrier for most people.
The follower of Christ or disciple of Christ must deny themselves anything that would get in the way of following Christ. This requires one to combat sinful activity, reject one's own will on behalf of Christ, and to make Christ one’s number one priority. This call does not only encompass one’s conduct, it requires an entire giving of one’s self to the Savior.
This is the cost of discipleship. The cost is giving your entire life over to Christ.
As if this first call was not hard enough, Jesus gives an even greater call before following him.
The second command in order to follow Christ is that one take up his cross daily.
For us today, the cross is a positive image. People wear cross necklaces, have crosses on their hats and shirts. We have a cross in our church and even on our church’s exterior. For us, the cross reminds us of what Christ did for us. It reminds us how much He loves us and how much we should love, appreciate, and obey Him in response to His great love. Yet during this time period the cross meant certain death and execution in the most tortuous way possible. It meant being prepared to endure suffering.
Those who follow Christ must be willing to give everything for him. This even involves one's life. Although martyrdom is not a universal occurrence in the lives of most followers, it certainly is a possibility for all. For most, however, taking up one's cross involves accepting pain and persecution on behalf of Christ. Many have referred to taking up one's cross in a rather limited and superficial way. Some use this phrase to refer to any adversity that comes in this life.
Jesus, however, uses this phrase to refer to persecution that occurs in the life of a believer as a direct result of following Him. This may involve being ostracized from a group, not invited to neighborhood functions because of your beliefs, losing your job because of standing for the truth of Scripture, being persecuted by one's own family or friends because of your beliefs, having less advantageous investments because of integrity, and even possibly physical harm.
Again, there is a cost of discipleship. The gift of eternal life is free - meaning that you cannot earn it by works, money, or anything else. But accepting this free gift means that your life is no longer your own.
1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV
for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Jesus has paid the ultimate price for your life. Thus, as a true follower of Christ you should honor and glorify Christ with your entire life.
Theologian Leon Morris once said:
“When a man from one of their villages took up a cross and went off with a little band of Roman soldiers, he was on a one-way journey. He would not be back.”
Leon Morris
Those who follow Christ are on a one-way journey. Once you go all in, your life is no longer your own.
My friends, if you find yourself living like a chameleon and changing who you are based on who you are with, there is a good chance that you aren’t a true follower of Christ. True followers of Christ take up their cross daily. Yes, they stumble and fall time and time again. But God picks them up and keeps them on the narrow path.
Following Christ is a one-way journey friends. True followers persevere unto the end.
Jesus isn’t done with the hard words yet though…
Luke 9:24–25 ESV
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Verse 24 refers to those who live their lives for themselves. They refuse to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ. They refuse to follow His commands and obey Him. They refuse to follow the plan and will of God for their lives. They stubbornly make their own plans and follow them.
Isn’t this the common teaching in our world today though? It is easily seen through modern advertisement campaigns. Consider the following…
Have it your way? Because you’re worth it. Yes we can.
Yet, it is this group of people that Jesus says will lose their life. Those who give up their lives unto Christ will truly gain life. They will not only gain abundant life while on earth, albeit accompanied by difficulties at times, but they gain eternal life!
Jesus moves forward to challenge those who seek worldly gains instead of heavenly gains. What profit is it if you lose or forfeit your soul? What kind of investment is it to have a few decades of pleasure and an eternity of torture in Hell? Only a fool lives this way.
Jim Elliot was a man who did suffer the ultimate price for following Jesus Christ. He died a martyr’s death. Elliot’s journal entry from October 28, 1949 features the quote that the Christian missionary is most noted for:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot (from journal entry October 28, 1949)
Wow is all that I can say after reading that quote. It is so powerful that even after reading it many times over, I am still moved after reading it. There is a cost of discipleship. There is not a cost for salvation as we have already discussed. Salvation is a free gift from God. It only requires that one repent - meaning turn away from one’s sins - and place one’s faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord. But this commitment is a lifelong commitment. It requires you to go all in.
But as Elliot asserts, you cannot keep this life anyway!
Hebrews 9:27 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
We all will die at some point. This is something we all have in common on earth. We all will die. So many do everything they can to hold onto this life on earth only to die anyway. No matter how much money you have and no matter how great your doctors are - you will eventually meet your Maker.
Which brings us to another thing in common - we all will face judgment before Christ.
I pray that each of you here have not only recognized the Savior, but have responded to the Savior. There is only one way for salvation and that is through Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 ESV
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Friends, be sure that you have recognized and responded to the Savior through repentance and faith.
And be sure that you have not…
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 6:20, Hebrews 9:27, Acts 4:12

III. Have You Renounced the Savior? (26-27)

Luke 9:26 ESV
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
A couple of weeks ago we mentioned this particular verse. This is an extremely difficult verse for many of the churches in America today. Many pastors are ashamed of Christ and His teachings. They refuse to preach the whole counsel of Scripture because they are ashamed of the difficult teachings of Christ.
Like Peter, they rebuke Christ. They seek to silence His Word to the church. They refuse to discuss the controversial topics of our culture. They refuse to preach the hard teachings in order to push their personal agenda and brand. They refuse to speak out for righteousness and justice and holiness for fear that it might offend some and thereby diminish their own popularity.
And many attenders of churches are no better. They seek churches that preach this way - preaching that shows itself as ashamed of the Word by avoiding controversial doctrines at all costs. They don’t want to hear the difficult passages. They are ashamed of the Bible’s view of sexuality. They are ashamed of the Bible’s view of creation. They are ashamed of the Bible’s view of gender roles. They are ashamed of the Biblical view regarding the sanctify of life. And they are ashamed of Jesus’ statement of exclusion instead of inclusion in John 14:6.
My friends, may we never be that way. May we never be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His entire Word.
Some may hear what I just said and reply - “I’m not ashamed of Jesus. I talk about him all of the time. I just don’t feel comfortable discussing some of the Old Testament passages and some of the New Testament letters written by Paul because they can be divisive and offensive to people today.”
But did you not read the entire verse?
For whoever is ashamed of me.... and my words.
As we saw in the introduction of today’s message, many people have expressed a commitment to Christ. Yet, many of these people have not expressed a commitment to the Christ of the Bible. Being ashamed of the Word of God - the words of Christ - which contrary to popular church opinion are not just the ones in red. The entire Bible is the Word of God. We understand this from John 1:1
John 1:1 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
So to be ashamed of the Word of God is to be ashamed of Christ Himself.
Don’t buy the red letter movement that asserts that only what Jesus said in red is what should be read. This is a demonic and false teaching.
The entire Bible is the Word of God. Jesus Christ is eternal and has been present since before the creation of everything seen in Genesis and will continue to be present even after the consummation of everything seen in Revelation. He is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
Jesus ends with an emphatic event that would confirm His deity…
Luke 9:27 ESV
But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
There is a debate on what event this may refers to. It is clear that this does not refer to the second coming of Christ - called the parousia (pare-oo-see-ya) because this has still yet to occur.
We also see that the kingdom of God had come with the coming ministry of Christ.
Matthew 4:17 ESV
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So we know that this event must refer to something that happened during the lifetime of those who were present.
Some more common ideas expressed by commentators include:
The Transfiguration (which I favor because it comes right after this statement)
The Resurrection and Ascension
The Falling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
Any of these are possible - but with the placement of the Transfiguration occuring directly after this statement in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) - it seems reasonable to assert that Jesus was speaking of the Transfiguration.
However, what signified the coming of the kingdom of God is not the heart of this statement. The main understanding that we should take from this statement is that the kingdom of God has indeed come. It is at hand as Christ stated. It has been inaugurated albeit not fully consummated as it shall be when Christ returns.
But we can celebrate that God is sovereign and that His promises are sure.
Which brings us back to our original question of this sermon…
Who do you say that He is?
Scripture References: John 14:16, John 1:1, John 1:14, Matthew 4:17
I pray that have not renounced the Savior - meaning that you have rejected His claims of being God and that you have declared that you do not adhere to His Word or commands.
I pray that instead you have recognized and responded to the sacrificial Savior. The One who offers eternal life. I pray that your allegiance to Him is unwavering, and that you desire nothing more than to serve Him always. I pray that you are not ashamed of Him in front of the world. And I pray that you are willing to give up your will and life for Him.
He is worthy of all glory, honor, power, praise, and allegiance.
Before leaving today, be sure that you understand Who Jesus truly is according the Scriptures.
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