Most commentators see this passage in Luke as the central “hinge” that holds the two parts of Luke together. In the first part that we have been exploring since January, the central question is “Who is this man?” Jesus is teaching and behaving and acting in ways that evoke amazement and bewildered questions about his identity. Over those chapters, Luke is building a case that this person is none other than the promised Messiah and the incarnate Son of God. All those questions of identity culminate in Luke 9:18 when Jesus takes the question that everyone has been asking about him and turns it back onto his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” The disciples mumble a few ways that others have answered that question. But Jesus won’t relent. “What about you?” he asks. Peter blurts out, “The Christ (Messiah) of God!” Finally, the answer is clear!
But now, instead of congratulating the disciples for figuring out who he is, Jesus goes on to talk openly about his own suffering and death (9:21-22). This is the introduction to the second part of Luke, which is preoccupied with the question of what Jesus has come to do. And the answer to that question is given right here in these verses: he has come to suffer and die for his people, and also to gather a community who will follow after him in the same way. Jesus is not just looking for believers, he is looking for disciples. People who don’t just confess in their hearts that Jesus is the Christ, but those who are also then willing to abandon all and follow him on the way to the cross.
Are you ready to confess with your own mouth who Jesus is? And are you prepared to follow him wherever he leads, even unto death? Those are the questions we’ll be exploring this Sunday.
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18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”