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Peter’s Great Confession (9:18–22)
Luke 9:19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
Luke 9:20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
James Stewart’s writes He began with the impersonal question—“Whom do men say that I am?” That, at any rate, was not difficult to answer. For on every side men were saying things about Jesus. A dozen verdicts were abroad. All kinds of rumors and opinions were in the air. Jesus was on every tongue. And men were not only saying things about Jesus; they were saying great things about Him.
But Jesus was not content with that recognition. People were saying that he was John, Elijah, Jeremiah. But that meant that he was one in a series. It meant that there were precedents and parallels, and that even if he stood first in rank, he was still only primus inter pares, first among his equals.
But quite certainly that is not what the Christ of the New Testament claimed. Men may agree with Christ’s claim, or they may dissent from it; but as to the fact of the claim itself there is not the shadow of a doubt. Christ claimed to be something and someone unprecedented, unparalleled, unrivaled, unique.
Luke 9:21 And He strictly warned 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 be raised the third day.”
Following Peter’s historic confession, the Lord commanded them not to tell others; nothing must interrupt His pathway to the cross.
Then the Savior unveiled His own immediate future to them. He must suffer, must be rejected by the religious leaders of Israel, must be killed and must be raised the third day.
This was an astounding announcement. Let us not forget that these words were spoken by the only sinless, righteous Man who ever lived on this earth. They were spoken by the true Messiah of Israel. They were the words of God manifest in the flesh.
They tell us that the life of fulfillment, the perfect life, the life of obedience to the will of God involves suffering, rejection, death in one form or another, and a resurrection to life that is deathless. It is a life poured out for others.
This of course was the very opposite of the popular conception of Messiah’s role. Men looked for a saber-rattling, enemy-destroying leader. It must have been a shock to the disciples.
But if, as they confessed, Jesus was indeed the Christ of God, then they had no reason for disillusionment or discouragement. If He is the Anointed of God, then His cause can never fail. No matter what might happen to Him or to them, they were on the winning side. Victory and vindication were inevitable.
Invitation to Take Up the Cross (9:23–27)
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Having outlined His own future, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross.
To deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life.
To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life He lived.
This involves:— The opposition of loved ones.— The reproach of the world.—Forsaking family and house and lands and the comforts of this life.— Complete dependence on God.—Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.— Proclamation of an unpopular message.— A pathway of loneliness.— Organized attacks from established religious leaders.— Suffering for righteousness’ sake.— Slander and shame.— Pouring out one’s life for others.— Death to self and to the world.
But it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward.
We instinctively recoil from a life of cross-bearing. Our minds are reluctant to believe that this could be God’s will for us. Yet the words of Christ “If anyone desires to come after Me” mean that nobody is excused and nobody is excepted.
Luke 9:24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
The natural tendency is to save our lives by selfish, complacent, routine, petty existences.
We may indulge our pleasures and appetites by basking in comfort, luxury, and ease, by living for the present, by trading our finest talents to the world in exchange for a few years of mock security.
But in the very act, we lose our lives, that is, we miss the true purpose of life and the profound spiritual pleasure that should go with it!
On the other hand, we may lose our lives for the Savior’s sake. Men think us mad if we fling our own selfish ambitions to the wind, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, if we yield ourselves unreservedly to Him.
But this life of abandonment is genuine living. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description.
Luke 9:25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
As the Savior talked with the twelve, He realized that the desire for material riches might be a powerful deterrent against full surrender.
And so He said, in effect, “Suppose you could stockpile all the gold and silver in the whole world, could own all the real estate and property, all the stocks and bonds—everything of material value— and suppose that in your frantic effort to acquire all this you missed the true purpose of life, what good would it do you? You would have it for only a short while; then you would leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain to sell that one, short life for a few toys of dust.”
Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Another deterrent against total commitment to Christ is the fear of shame. It is completely irrational for a creature to be ashamed of his Creator, for a sinner to be ashamed of his Savior. And yet which of us is blameless?
The Lord recognized the possibility of shame and solemnly warned against it. If we avoid the shame by leading nominal Christian lives, by conforming to the herd, the Son of Man will be ashamed of us when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s glory, and in the glory of the holy angels.
He emphasizes the triple-splendored glory of His Second Advent as if to say that any shame or reproach we may endure for Him now will seem trifling when He appears in glory compared to the shame of those who now deny Him.
Luke 9:27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”
This mention of His glory forms the link with what follows. He now predicts that some of the disciples who were standing there would see the kingdom of God before they died. His words find their fulfillment in verses 28–36, the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples were Peter, James, and John. On the Mount they saw a foreview of what it will be like when the Lord Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth.
Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson