March 1st, 2009 – Luke 9:18‐20, 28‐36

Who is He? Can’t afford to be wrong!

Luke 9:18‐20, 28‐36


When God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate God‐Man, He fulfilled promises He had made to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants (lit. seed) after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants (lit. seed) after you” (Gen. 17:7); and to David,” When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. . . I will be his father, and he will be my son. . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:12‐16; see also Gal. 3:15‐29; Luke 1:30‐33).

As the Lord Jesus began to present Himself to the nation of Israel, He referred to Himself as the “son of man.”1 Only privately, to individuals, did He confess that He was the Messiah, the Christ of God (e.g., John 4:25‐26). His preaching was clearly focused on the moral and ethical requirements of the promised kingdom. The miracles that He performed authenticated both His message and His person (cf. Matt. 11:2‐6). Those who heard Him and who witnessed His miracles were left to wonder and contemplate who He might be. Some believed in Him – that He was the promised Messiah (cf. John 1:12), but most did not. Did His disciples believe that He was the promised Messiah? That is where our story today picks up.

Our Study of the Text

  1. THE LORD ASKS A QUESTION (9:18).The question is direct and to the point: “Who do the crowds say I am?” The plural pronoun – in reference to the disciples, indicates that His question was to all of them. He was specifically interested in who the disciples thought He was.Just a short time earlier, the disciples had witnessed – had even participated in, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, or the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Some two years had passed since John the baptizer had announced to them: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Miracle after miracle had authenticated who Jesus was. Were they convinced?
  2. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER (9:19).Perhaps the Lord’s eyes scanned the group as He looked to them for an answer. Several identities were suggested: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
  3. THE LORD ASKS A SECOND QUESTION (9:20a).Though Luke never mentions specifically that the disciples believed in Him, John certainly does (see John 2:11). Jesus now draws them to an acknowledgement of their belief: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
  4. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER (9:20b).The question had been put to the group, but Peter responds for them all: “The Christ of God.” Jesus did not want others to know of this (2v. 21) because it was not time for Him to be proclaimed publicly as Messiah.
  5. THE CONFIRMATION (9:28‐36).”About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Matthew and Mark say that “after six days.” The accounts are not contradictory if one understands Matthew and Mark to be speaking of the intervening days and Luke as including the days of Jesus’ teaching as well as the day on which the transfiguration took place.2During the transfiguration three things happened:
    1. Jesus’ face and clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. This would have immediately reminded those present of Moses’ face shining with a bright light when he received the tablets of the Law (Ex. 34:29‐35).
    2. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. The bodies of Moses and Elijah were never found. God buried Moses’ body (Deut. 34:5‐6), and Elijah did not die but was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11‐12, 15‐18). These two men represent the beginning and the end of Israel, for Moses, as the Lawgiver, founded the nation, and Elijah, who represents the prophets, is to come back before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5‐6).
    3. Moses and Elijah spoke about His departure (Gr. exodus, which literally means “going out or away”, but figuratively refers to departure or death) which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. “Departure” referred to Jesus’ leaving the world through which He would bring salvation—much as Yahweh had brought deliverance to Israel in its Exodus (departure) from Egypt. From this point on, Jesus indicated several times that He was headed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31). Jesus did not want His miracles widely publicized at that time, for the fulfillment had to be at Jerusalem. This was confirmed by Elijah’s and Moses’ words.3
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah‐Savior.
    • The events of our Lord’s life clearly authenticate that He is the Christ of God!

1 Luke records twenty‐six occasions when the Lord referred to Himself as the Son of Man: 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21: 27, 36; 22: 22, 48, 69; 24:7.

2 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983‐c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:230). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
3 Ibid.

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