18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, "Who do the people say that I am?" 19 And they answered, "John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen." 20 And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God." 21 But he charged 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 on the third day be raised."23 And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.
Meditation: Who is Jesus for you - and what difference
does he make in your life? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a
mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the
prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke,
professed that Jesus was truly the "Christ of God" - "the Son of
the living God" (Matthew 16:16). No mortal being could have
revealed this to Peter, but only God. Through the "eyes of faith"
Peter discovered who Jesus truly was. Peter recognized that Jesus
was much more than a great teacher, prophet, and miracle worker.
Peter was the first apostle to publicly declare that Jesus was the
Anointed One, consecrated by the Father and sent into the
world to redeem a fallen human race enslaved to sin and cut off
from eternal life with God (Luke 9:20, Acts 2:14-36). The word for
"Christ" in Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word for
"Messiah" - both words literally mean the Anointed One.
Jesus begins to explain the mission he was sent to accomplish
Why did Jesus command his disciples to be silent about his identity as the anointed Son of God? They were, after all, appointed to proclaim the good news to everyone. Jesus knew that they did not yet fully understand his mission and how he would accomplish it. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD), an early church father, explains the reason for this silence:
There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father. He utterly abolished death and wiped out destruction. He robbed hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy. He took away the sin of the world, opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven. These things proved him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. (Commentary on Luke, Homily 49)
God's Anointed Son must suffer and die to atone for our sins
Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption might be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard this word. How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). It was through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross that Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and from the oppression of our enemy, Satan, the father of lies and the deceiver of humankind.
We, too, have a share in the mission and victory of Jesus Christ
If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must also take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the "cross" that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses (does not align) with God's will, then his will must be done. To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strength we need to live as sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the Gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is?
1 O God, thou are my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
5 My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,
7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Peter confesses that Jesus is God's Anointed Son and Savior of all, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"You see the skillfulness of the question. He [Jesus] did not at
once say, 'Who do you say that I am?' He refers to the rumor of
those that were outside their company. Then, having rejected it
and shown it unsound, he might bring them back to the true
opinion. It happened that way. When the disciples had said, 'Some,
John the Baptist, and others, Elijah, and others, that some
prophet of those in old time has risen up,' he said to them, 'But
you, who do you say that I am?' Oh! how full of meaning is that
word you! He separates them from all others, that they may also
avoid the opinions of others. In this way, they will not conceive
an unworthy idea about him or entertain confused and wavering
thoughts. Then they will not also imagine that John had risen
again, or one of the prophets. 'You,' he says, 'who have been
chosen,' who by my decree have been called to the apostleship, who
are the witnesses of my miracles. Who do you say that I
am?'"(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 49)