"Who is Jesus?"
Luke 9:1-9, 18-27
1. The turning of the calendar from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000 marks one of
the most memorable moments in human history. It is amazing how differently the
importance of that moment is perceived by different people.
Just recently two people talked to me about the year 2000. Both of them brought up the
subject. Both are Christians. One is from America and one is from another country.
The American was focused on the potential problems of the failure of computer chips
which are unable to read the new centurys date - - and worries about everything from
gas pumps to water supplies to electrical generating plants. The other person told me that
in her country the big excitement is celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the birth of
I was stunned by the contrast of what is most important. And, I was reminded that 2000
years of history have not changed the key question - - who is Jesus and how important
is he in your life?
2. That question was behind the events of an historic day when Jesus sent out his
I. Sending out Jesus representatives Luke 9:1-6
1. "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."
2. This was the first formal evangelistic and missions thrust of Jesus. It revealed
his strategy for making Christians:
#1 Work through others.
He never intended to do everything directly himself. He planned to use
representatives who were themselves Christians. Then it was his closest followers, twelve
of them. Today it is us.
#2 Care for the whole person
Jesus was primarily concerned about peoples salvation - - their eternal
relationship to God. But he was also concerned about their immediate needs, whether they
were afflicted by demons or needed to be healed of diseases. Jesus cares for every part of
#3 Use word of mouth
The primary means of spreading the gospel was and is word-of-mouth - - not miracles
or radio or television or literature. In those days even books of the Bible were
exceptionally rare and expensive because they were all copied by hand. The strategy of
Jesus was and is for one person to tell another.
At Wooddale Church we ask how people first came. The #2 reason is that they saw
the steeple. But, overwhelmingly, the #1 reason is the influence and invitation of a
friend. It is even more that way when asking how people came to Christian faith - - it is
from the words and influence of a parent, spouse, relative, friend, neighbor, co-worker or
stranger. Word-of-mouth was and is Jesus strategy for evangelism.
3. It worked! Jesus disciples were highly effective - - - "they set
out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people
everywhere." (Luke 9:7)
4. In fact, it worked so well that even King Herod himself heard what was happening.
II. Asking who Jesus is Luke 9:7-9, 18-19
1. Herod was worried. He couldnt figure out who was behind this great
spiritual awakening that was capturing the attention and souls of the citizens of his
What really worried him was the rumor that the leader of the spiritual awakening was
John the Baptist. You see, King Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. The rumors were that
John the Baptist had come back to life - - -that he was re-headed! That enough to scare
2. Others said it was Elijah. Elijah had been taken to heaven without dying, but
that was centuries earlier. Maybe he had come back to earth again.
Others said it wasnt John the Baptist or Elijah but some other prophet from long
ago that had returned to lead a spiritual revolution.
3. The King wanted to meet this leader for himself. He would make his own
evaluation. But, Jesus wasnt going to meet with the king that had killed John. It
was a royal request that never was met.
4. Frankly, Jesus was more concerned about what his closest followers thought than what
the king wanted. He led into the subject with a question for his followers about the
rumors that were rampant: "Who do the crowds say I am?"
5. Jesus followers reported the rumors: "Some say John the Baptist; others
say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to
6. They gave a standard academic, journalistic type reply. Sort of like taking a
test in college where your only responsibility to report what youve read but not to
accept or reject it. Jesus followers gave the answers everyone else gave . . . but
that wasnt good enough for Jesus.
7. Jesus asked one of the most important questions of human history and eternity:
"But what about you? Who do you say I am?"
8. Jesus called for a personal conclusion and commitment, not an academic answer.
You can read every book that has ever been written about Christianity and not be a
Christian. You can learn the Bibles original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek
- - plus memorize the Bible in English - - and still not be a Christian. You can be
baptized, join a church, give money and go to every activity and still not be a Christian.
9. The question for them then is the same question for us now. Jesus still wants a
personal answer: "Who do you say I am?" How do you answer?
10. It is interesting how St. Paul answered this question in II Timothy 1:12.
"I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard
what I have entrusted to him for that day." Paul didnt emphasis what
he believed but who he believed. Christianity isnt so much about a list of
doctrines; it is about a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
III. Answering who Jesus is Luke 9:20
1. When Jesus asked his question it was Peter who blurted out the answer: "The
Christ of God!" It was a stunning statement!
2. "Christ" is a Greek word. The Hebrew word is "Messiah." The
English word is "Anointed." Whatever the language everyone knew what Peter
meant. Jesus was the one chosen by God to be the Savior - - to save people from sin and
3. Jesus is the Christ. Not a Christ, but the
Christ. In similar statements at other times Jesus talked about who he was and there was
no doubt that he was claiming to come directly from God and to be God himself.
Since then some critics and people from other religions have insisted that Jesus
didnt mean that he was anything special or that later Christians have added
unintended meanings. Not so! In those days people who disagreed picked up stones to kill
Jesus for claiming to be The Christ and God. They knew perfectly well what Jesus meant.
4. Who Jesus is divides Christianity from every other religion of the world and from
every non-Christian cult. Modern Jews say he was just another Rabbi. Muslims say that
he was just one of a long list of prophets. Hindus and Buddhists think of him as a
5. To be a Christian is to believe that Jesus is the Christ of God. He is the one
and only savior of the world. With Jesus it is all or nothing. By the way, thats one
of the reasons some people reject Jesus and Christianity - - -it seems so exclusive and
6. To the contrary, it is not arrogant to believe something is true if it is true.
If a diabetic says that insulin is my only way to live instead of die, that is not
arrogant. To the contrary, it is stupidity to think that aspirin, Tylenol, or Vitamin
C are just as good for treating diabetes as long as you sincerely believe they will work.
If God sent his one and only Son to earth to save us from sin and death, of course
he wont accept alternate inadequate solutions. Jesus is the Christ of
7. For some then and for some now, it can be hard to fully believe in Jesus. It is
like putting all your investments in one stock or all your eggs in one basket.
Keep in mind that Jesus acknowledged that he was the Christ of God. He elsewhere said "I
am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jesus was either totally delusional (crazy) or totally deceptional (lying) - - or he
was telling the truth. I believe the evidence supports his truthfulness. Jesus was too
good to be a liar and too credible to be crazy.
8. I agree with Peter when he said "You are the Christ of God!"
But, I dont think Peter or his friends fully understood at that time all that
So, Jesus explained.
IV. Explaining what believing means Luke 9:21-27
A. Suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus
1. Jesus first warned them to keep this quiet for a little longer. He
didnt want people petitioning to elect him general or king. He was concerned that
misunderstanding would spread. Most of them were more interested in a political Messiah
than a Savior Messiah.
2. Jesus told them what to expect: "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."
3. Jesus knew what he had come to do. God had sent him to die on the cross
to take the full suffering for all human sin - - and then to rise back to life again as
proof of his victory over sin and death. It would be indescribably awful, but thats
what it would take to save people from sin and hell.
There is good historical evidence that Jesus knew what crucifixion would be like.
When Jesus was about eleven years old a man named Judas the Galilaean led an insurrection
against the Roman rule of Palestine. He attacked the imperial armory at Sepphoris which
was only four miles from where Jesus lived in Nazareth.
The Roman response was swift and severe. The town of Sepphoris was burned to the
ground. All of its people were sold into slavery. The two thousand rebels were all
crucified at the same time on crosses which lined the road near Nazareth.
Jesus boyhood memory must have been etched with the horror of crucifixion. Yet,
thats where he was headed by choice because of human sin and Gods call.
4. To be a Christian is to believe in Jesus and what Jesus came to do - - suffering,
resurrection and eternal life.
B. Fully following Jesus as Lord
1. And to be a Christian means fully following Jesus the Christ as Lord:
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross
daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet
lose or forfeit his very self? 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."
2. Jesus insisted on nothing less than a 100% commitment to him - - -that Jesus
be absolutely #1 in a Christians life.
3. Theres an interesting story about the line in Luke 9:25.
Charles the Great, better known as Charlemagne, was the great European
medieval emperor of Europe until his death in A.D. 814. Legend has it that he was buried
sitting upright on a throne with his hand holding up his head and a Bible randomly opened
on his lap. Years later when his tomb was opened and his body was reduced to a skeleton,
the hand had fallen so that his finger pointed to the words of Luke 9:25 - - - "What
good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
4. Jesus was saying that a Christian must put Jesus first. It is saying "Im
not important. Jesus is. Possessions are not important. Jesus is. Comfort is not
important. Jesus is. Nothing else is really important in my life. Jesus is."
5. One way Jesus expressed this was for Christians to be cross bearers - -
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross
daily and follow me." That means a willingness to suffer the worst thing that can
happen if thats what it takes to follow Jesus. Not that we seek pain or suffering,
but that we count Jesus to be so important in our lives that nothing else really matters.
6. Let me tell you about where I have recently seen what Jesus was talking about.
Clyde and Lee McDowell are former Wooddalers. Clyde was an associate pastor
of Wooddale Church in the early 1980s. Now in his late 40s he is the President of Denver
Several months ago he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that has caused
waves of speech problems, seizures, headaches and the threat of an early death. Over
recent months he has undergone aggressive treatment with two major brain surgeries, seven
weeks of daily radiation therapy and massive chemotherapy. So far, nothing has really
I have talked often with Clyde and Lee. Charleen and I went to Denver a few
weeks ago to spend the day with them.
What I have seen and heard lives out what Jesus talked about in Luke 9. The
McDowells cross is a life-threatening brain tumor. They have picked up that cross
and carried it with faith. Their allegiance to Jesus Christ has not wavered. There is not
a hint of complaint. During surgery he shared the Christian message with those in the
operating room. They repeatedly say that God is sovereign and God is good and if Clyde
lives that is for Gods glory and if Clyde dies that is Gods perfect will. They
have told me that one of the proofs of the greatness and goodness of God is that
treatments have failed, proving that God is in charge not physicians.
When we talk there isnt much said about money or possessions or success or any
of the other temporary things that fill so many American lives. I hear a
Christian couple who are fully following Jesus Christ and who evidence a joy that should
be the envy of us all.
8. Let us all hear what Jesus is saying here - - those who live for themselves
and the best they can get always lose. Those who live for the Christ of God always win.
1. One of the wonders of modern computers and digital photography is the way you can
switch people in pictures. In fact, there are services that can add, subtract and
switch faces. If you miss the photo-taking at the family reunion they can add you into the
photo. If your brother gets mad at you for smashing up his car, he can have you taken out
of the photo.
2. Picture the conversation between Jesus and his followers in Luke 9. Take Peter
out of the picture. Put yourself into the picture.
3. Jesus now speaks directly face-to-face with you and asks, "What about you?
Who do you say I am?"
4. Tell him . . . "Jesus, you are the Christ of God. You are my only Savior and
Lord. I will follow you anywhere. You are more important to me than the world
5. What about you? Who do you say Jesus is?
November 21-22 , 1998 Wooddale Church, ęCopyright, Leith Anderson.