So, Luke 9, and we are gonna be reading from verse 18 to verse 27. Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them Who do the crowd say I am? They replied some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah and still others that 1 of the prophets have long ago has come back to life. But what about you, he asked?
Who do you say I am? Peter answered god's Messiah. Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone And he said the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priest, and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed. And on the third day be raised to life. Then he said to them all, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me in 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. Truly, I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of god. The, earliest Christians of the first century of whom Luke was 1, claimed that something unbelievably extraordinary happened 2000 years ago.
They claimed that something incredible the world had never seen had happened among them in their site or at least their friend's site. They claimed that a man, a baby, was born, in a satellite town just outside of Jerusalem called Bethlehem. This baby was miraculously born to a virgin, knowing that this had never ever happened in all of history before. And this baby then grew up to do incredible things. Amazing things.
That during the reign of Tiberias, the second emperor of Rome, This baby, as a man now, did incredible jaw dropping science suspending things. As an orator, he spoke the most amazing sermons thousands of people were coming from villages all around to hear him speak. He at certain times, he took on the eminent thinkers of his day, and he would just dispel their arguments with just sometimes 1 question, and they were left scurrying away with their theological tails behind between their legs and, the whole argument, the whole thing was settled. Jesus was an amazing speaker preacher orator. But he went on to do incredible miraculous things.
He had the ability to heal the sick, turn water into wine, feed the 5000, and even bend nature to come a storm with a single command. Lucas told us much of this and how it had made a huge impact on so many people in the region of Galilei in particular. However, people were wondering who on earth this man was. Who is this man? Where has he come from?
Who are his parents? How does he do these things? And what's his mission Why has he come into Gallilee doing these things? What's the purpose of all of this stuff that he's saying and doing. Someone they knew someone incredible was on their doorstep knocking on the front door, but they didn't know who he was, why he had come.
So people are asking questions all the time. Who is he? What's he come for? And how should I respond to all of this? And that brings us to this passage, very pivotal passage in Luke's gospel.
Because as Lucas mentioned, much of this stuff that I've I've talked about already, we come to this text where these questions are addressed. Who was Jesus? Why had he come? And how should I respond? Who is Jesus?
Why had he come? What was his mission about? And how should you and I respond? So let's look at him 1 at a time in this incredibly pivotal, important passage. Who was Jesus?
Once when Jesus was praying in private with the disciples were with him, he asked them, who do the crowds Say I am. They replied, some said on the Baptist, other say Elijah, and still others that 1 of the prophets of long ago has come back to life. But what about you? He asked, who do you say I am? Peter answered god's Messiah or Christ.
Messiah is a Hebrew word. The Greek word is Christos. The English word is Christ. It means anointed special chosen 1 of god, 1 who is specially endowed, appointed by god himself to be god's representative on earth. That's who Peter is saying.
Jesus is. That's his answer. But that's the question for you here this evening. Who do you say Jesus was or is? Now don't miss this in an oral culture of the first century, it's deliberately worded, so it doesn't say who do you think Jesus is.
It's saying who do you say in Jesus is? In an oral culture, your words mean a lot more than they do today. In our society, we're a much more written culture and that things that are written down often matter more than just spoken word. But it was the reverse in the ancient world. Written were written things on on papyrus and so on weren't as, authoritative.
As someone speaking in person. So it's quite poignant that Jesus says who do you This is asking you, who do you sign off on? Not just who I think who do you think I am? Who do you say? Who what is your your answer to this question who and how will you sign off on it with your life?
And you can see that in Jesus' day, they said, well, some say, you're John the Baptist or the prophet Elijah. Now they're not saying no due in those days believed in reincarnation, but they were just saying, you're like John the Baptist. You're like a prophet. They believed in resurrection. But it's probably even figurative, even when it says, 1 of the prophets longer wear has come back to life.
It's it's probably more symbolic, a metaphor, just like what we might say, this guy is the next David Beckham or Wayne rooney or Ronaldo or something like that. Not literally saying that's Wayne rooney reincarnated. But you you know what I'm saying? That's what they're saying here. But who do you say Jesus was?
Or is who do you sign off on? What's your answer? For me, as I said, I grew up in a non Christian home. I didn't go to church. So all my understanding of Jesus came from those films that come out at Easter and Christmas.
And I'm I think I'm a bit older than you might think. And so I these are the films I grew up on from the sixties and seventies. And, they they made Jesus out quite frankly to be very weird. Jesus was just a strange oddball kind of looking guy. I never smiled, and was always sort of morbid talking about stuff that didn't really matter to me as a young Australian who likes surfing and sailing and cricket and so on.
Jesus never mentioned any of that. Maybe walking on water, but that that was about it. But it just seems so irrelevant so weird. The other way I got my theology was through paintings. Like these ones.
This was how I pictured Jesus from paintings that I'd seen He was either kind of very heterosexual, in a Laura Ashley Knighty or something like that. And, yeah, often had little baby animals around him and on him, or small kids from curiously nations all over the world, in galilee wearing 20 first century clothing, or twentieth century clothing. And, yeah, now all of this, this is how I got my theology, And all of this, you know, this reminded me seriously of, this. Jesus was pretty much a male Julie Andrews, who just sat on logs with kids around San Kumbaya, and told stories about a pharisee and a tax collector and a wicked witch. And the moral of the story was don't run with scissors.
Or eat more carrots and you'll see in the dark. That was my understanding of Jesus until I was confronted with what the original text says of who Jesus is. What is your view of Jesus? Who do you say that he is? CS Lewis is credited with coming up with the that little saying Jesus either liar, lunatic or lord Is he a liar?
Was he lying about who he was? Did he pull the wall over people's eyes? Perhaps he was a lunatic maybe he thought he was god, and he was just some sort of mad man deluded in some sort, or was he lord? Actually Lewis leaves another l out. Liah lunatic Lordy, there's another l that's being bantered around today all the time that I want to address.
It's the word legend. 1 of the greatest myths in 20 first century London, other than the flat earth myth, is that Jesus never existed. Guys, can I categorically tell you that just does hold no weight whatsoever in proper good scholarship on Jesus? The no you'll find no scholar in the field believing that. No published peer review journals scholar, to, as far as I know, has has said that in in this field of ancient history, Sure.
There've been some scholars who flirted with the idea. The theory that Jesus never existed, there's been a number of books arguing that Jesus never existed, but virtually none of their theories have ever stuck firmly within the academic circles of ancient history. And most books questioning the existence of Jesus are at best written by pseudo scholars who have never published their works in peer review journals. If anyone says to you, no historian, or many historians Don't believe that Jesus exist. Ask them which ones.
Get them to name them, and I bet you they can't. The only person, the only scholar that Richard Dawkins is prepared to list in his book the god delusion, That says Jesus didn't exist is professor George Wells from the University of London. Sounds credible, right? GA wells from the University of London. But what I mean, or let me read you the quote.
In the god delusion, it says Dorgen says it is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported historical case that Jesus never lived at all. As has been done by, among others, who doesn't name, Professor g a wells of the University of London in a number of books. But what dawkins fails to tell you is Professor GA wills is not a professor professor of ancient history. He's a professor of German literature. That's like saying Saturn is our closest planet not Mars, and then backing up your claim with a quote from a professor of insects.
Pretty much the same thing. A few years ago, a few years ago now, a very good friend of mine, 1 of the Skones golfers, who got converted with me, who who now holds a PhD in a particular field of Greco Roman first century history. Recently got in contact with 3 eminent ancient historians and asked all of them if they knew any credible historian that firmly held the view that Jesus didn't exist. All 3 of them were non Christians. And all 3 of them said, no.
They can't think of 1. And 1 of them, Professor Graham Clark of the Australian National University, again, a non christian, emailed my friends my friend back these words, quote, frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian that would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of Jesus Christ. The documentary evidence is simply overwhelming and you can quote me. So I am. The encyclopedic Britannica has 20000 words to tell us that Jesus existed, it never once hints that he didn't exist.
So you can't say he's a legend. I mean, it's it's intellectual suicide amongst the no those that are in the no, to say that Jesus didn't exist. So therefore, you're left with lunatic, liar, or lord. Peter, we're told perhaps stepping forward on behalf of the other disciple says you're the Messiah. You're the Christ, your god's representative, your god's anointed, representative here on earth.
And Peter's right. Because Jesus backed it up. I mean, it's 1 thing to claim that or to say someone is that, but to see Jesus back it up, with over 40 recorded miracles for us in the new testament in some detail is pretty impressive. But it turns out Peter's only half right. Because when he said you're the Messiah or you're the Christ, he had a different picture in his mind.
Most Jews of the day and still to this day picture a kind of military figure who's gonna be the Christ. Some sort of Russell Crow, Arnold Schwartznega, leader. Someone very muscular, powerful, who's going to bring about the restoration of Israel politically and militarily and geographically. And Peter was no doubt thinking along these lines. Hence verse 21, Jesus, oh, I've still got that up.
That's not really helpful. Is it? Now, Jesus strictly warned them not to tell anyone. About him because they still had a lot of learning. And any blabbing about Jesus's true identity at this stage was gonna derail his ministry.
So for his own sake and for the disciples sake, verse 21 makes sense. Doesn't Jesus strictly warn them not to tell anyone uh-uh tell this to anyone. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the lord god's representative. In fact, we know it goes on that the scriptures go on to teach us that he is god himself, god in our shoes, god literally avataged himself and a human being 2000 years ago. Okay.
If that's who Jesus is, next question in the text is, why is he here? Why did he come? What was his mission all about? Well, we know from elsewhere that Jesus came from a number of reasons. Jesus came to teach us about god.
As god's representative, as god incarnate as god himself, he came to show us who god is. In the way he lived and the way he spoke. He came to show us god's place. That is his kingdom, demonstrate his kingdom. But his main reason for coming was to die and rise from the dead.
And so you've got it in the text. Here's his mission. He said, the son of man preferring to himself must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of law. He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. So all of us, as I'm sure many of you know, are deemed guilty in the eyes of god We've all sinned.
We've all rebelled against god. The Bible explains our position before god using a number of pictures. To explain our sin and our position before him. In navigational terms, we are lost. We've deviated from the path.
In financial terms, we've racked up a debt that we can't pay. We're all bankrupt, spiritually bankrupt. In judicial terms, we're all guilty. We all stand guilty before god in the divine courts of justice. In medical terms, we're ill, we're deceased.
In hygiene terms, we're all unclean. Karen, my wife is here this evening. She is an epidemiologist and infection control consultant, and on and off has worked for WHO among other organizations over the last 20 years. And a number of years ago, Karen, with WHO, went to West Africa for Ebola. And showing me some of the pictures of, Ebola victims It was harrowing.
It was horrific. To see the destruction of that illness disease that virus. Is that right, Karen? It's called a virus, on those poor people in West Africa. All of us have an illness that is fatal.
All of us stand before god guilty, diseased, unclean. And we deserve eternal death, eternal damnation. But the son of man has come to suffer on our behalf. To be rejected on our behalf and to die, to be killed on that good Friday. I'm pretty sure, well, I don't think this is still happening today, but up until relatively recently.
In paraguay, cowboys take cows to a fresher pasture every year. They migrate the cows to greener pastures each year. And in order to do this in a certain part of paraguay, they take them up past and through and over the Upper Paragui River. And traditionally, they would take 1 calf from within the herd and sacrifice it by throwing it into the river downstream. And the reason they do that each time these cows come to the the bank of this stream is that this part of the river is plagued with piranhas, those flesh eating fish.
And so each year each time, they take a calf they throw it in, and all the piranhas come and eat that calf while the others all cross to the other side. Safely. 2000 years ago, Jesus, not as a calf, but as the lamb of god, threw himself in to the river that we can't cross on our own, and all the shame or the debt or the sin or the illness or the horribleness or the awfulness, all our crimes, and all of god's wrath was consumed on him. As a sponge, he absorbed it all, so those who want to can cross to the other side. That is Jesus' mission for you and me.
He sacrificed himself through himself into the river so we can get to the other side But he says not only must be killed, but on the third day raised to life. As a result of our sin, 4 things break. In this world. I teach this at the Boat House very regularly. If you can get your mind around this, you'll understand a lot about Christianity.
4 things break as the result of our rebellion, and it's all written for us in Genesis 3. Get your head around this. I reckon you understand a lot of what Christianity is about. 4 things break. The first things that breaks is our relationship with god.
The second thing that breaks is our relationship with 1 another, as distrust. Murder comes into the first family when Kain kills Abel. There's distrust across the world now. So we have a broken relationship with god, we have a broken relationship with each other. The third thing that breaks in Eden is our bodies.
We will die. We might live 20 years, 30 years, 120 years, but we will die our bodies break. The fourth thing that breaks is the world itself creation breaks the earth groans. The earth is cursed. That's why we have such instability on our planet.
All 4 things have broken because we've rebelled against god. But Jesus came that through his death and resurrection, he might bring restoration, reconciliation, repair all those r words to those 4 things. So his death and resurrection, dealing with that repairing those 4 things, and restoring us to god. And his resurrection in particular is an example of that of how he's brought back to life His body is restored. He creates a new community among the first Christians, relationships that are scored are are are restored between men and women.
He brings people back into a new unity with god as the spirit comes on people. And 1 day he will restore the world, his resurrection is a movie preview of his whole restorative work. In fact, his whole ministry is that, as people are risen from the dead, they're healed from blindness or lameness, or, all sorts of other things as he calms storms. He's he's showing restoration. It's a movie preview of what he's come to do.
That's why he's here. He's come to suffer on our behalf be rejected, and therefore, he's the 1 thrown in, and all of god's wrath and all our shame and sin is placed upon him, yet he rises to begin at least this new restorative work. And we can be a part of that. So, last of all, how should we respond? It's there again in the passage.
It's so clear. It's so simple. Then he said to all of them, whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Forever wants to save their life or lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and let loose or forfeit their very self?
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the son of man will be ashamed of them when he comes into glory, in his glory. And in the glory of the father, and of the holy angels. Truly I tell you. Some of you are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom. Of god.
Well, I don't have all that much time to explain all of this, but this is just telling us the right response. How are you supposed to respond to all of this? If you believe that Jesus is lord and he came to suffer and die and rise again. If he is basically our lord and savior, How do you respond to that? Well, here it is.
The right response to Jesus is not just to pay in a little more attention. Or to listen to him on certain occasions. It is to give your whole life to him. It is to surrender your whole life to him, die to self and be alive to him and follow him for the rest of your days. You can break it down.
In verse 23, deny yourself. That is to deny your own agenda. Your own lordship over your own life. You are no longer the king or the emperor or the prime minister, the CEO of your life. You surrender that to him.
You surrender your rule to him, you deny yourself giving him the lordship of your life, and you pick up your cross You die to your own life, your own agenda. You sacrifice yourself. And paradoxically, usually can only die once, but paradoxically you do it daily. It's not just for Sundays folks. It's every day.
Not just when we feel like it. We follow him daily. So deny yourself pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus. Do, do your best to live the way he did. It's a total devotion, a total surrender to him.
It's been said it doesn't take much of a man to become a Christian. Takes all of him. Doesn't take much of a person to become a Christian. It takes all of them. That's what it's saying here.
And can I say if you're if you come confidently to the conclusion, that Jesus is lord and that he's your savior, he's done all that for you, becomes easier and easier to give him your life? To surrender to him, to follow him, to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow him it comes easier and easier. Let me finish with 2 conclusions or 2 applications. There may be a handful of you here who have never really come to a concrete conclusion on who Jesus is. Maybe a friend brought you tonight, maybe you walked off the street, maybe you've been coming to Cornerstone for a number of months, even years, but you've never really signed off on it.
Can I get you in your mind this evening to sign off that Jesus really is lord Christ King? God incarnate. And to know that Jesus died for you, He suffered died and rose on your behalf. Opening up a whole new dimension to you, to be with god for eternity. The application for you this evening is to commit your life to pick up your cross.
And follow Jesus from this night on. Make it happen tonight. For others who, you would say I'm a Christian. I'm devoted. I do believe Jesus is lord.
I have for a while I do understand that he died for me and rose again and so on. Can I draw your attention to this third section from verse 23? And verse 23 in particular. I think in London, we are surrounded by halfhearted Christians. We don't pick up our cross daily.
We pick it up every now and again. We're not fully committed. We don't die to ourselves totally. I wonder if tonight in response to all this, you'd recommit your life. To say, actually, look, here's the basics.
Jesus is lord. He is the Christ. He is god incarnate. He did die for me. He did rise again.
I do need a reboot in my faith. I do need to pick up my cross and follow him. Are fresh. Hopefully, those 2 things, those 2 applications will apply to you in some way or another. Great heavenly father.
Thank you for the lord Jesus, and help us to really come to that that he is the lord, the Christ, the Messiah, the King. Our great captain, he is second member of the Trinity, he is god. Himself in our shoes. Help us to come to that conclusion when we're asked, who do you say I am? And help us to realize maybe it's the first time or afresh that Jesus really did suffer, die, and rise again for me.
Please, father, with the reality of that, hit home afresh this evening. Think again of Jesus throwing himself in so that on that cross, he bore all our shame and sin and suffer the consequences absorbing your wrath on our behalf for us so that we can get to the other side and play further that we would therefore rightly respond. We would perhaps hear for the first time you know Efren's heart. Please, father, speak to every individual here, including myself. Help us to trust Jesus, to follow him, to die to ourselves, pick up our cross, daily and walk with him.
We pray all of this in Christ's name.