Jesus, the Messiah

I have been blessed, challenged, and encouraged by preaching from the Gospel According to Luke. Yesterday we were in chapter 8 and examined the correlation between fear and faith. Yesterday’s premise was incredibly impactful. I said, “When you trust the Living Word as revealed in the Written Word your faith grows, and fear goes.”  One of the main questions Luke is dealing with in the first ten chapters is “Who is the man?”  Who is the man they call Jesus? To trust in Jesus, we must know who He is. Luke is very helpful in revealing who Jesus is.

The first nine chapters are coming to a crescendo in chapter 9:51. Luke writes, “When the days  were coming to a close for him to be taken up, he determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  I have often thought of this verse as one of the most extraordinary testimonies of Christ’s love for us. In verse 18, Luke begins the discourse between Jesus and His disciples that end with Peter’s powerful declaration and confession of Jesus being “God’s Messiah.”  We know this transaction took place at Caesarea Philippi (see Matthew 16:13). Why does the location matter? It was about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. I asked Siri, and she told me Caesarea Philippi is about 81 miles north of Jerusalem. Consider how easy it would have been for Jesus to stay far away from Jerusalem. Notice the verse says, “When the days were coming to a close for him to be taken up …” Jesus knew His time on earth was fast approaching. He also knew the type of death He was walking to (See Luke 9:22, 44,45). Jesus knew he would be going to His death. Luke 10-23 is quite simply a story of a dead man walking. How much does He love you? 

However, the point of the Gospel is not a good man died for you, but God Himself died as a substitutionary atonement. It’s not that 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus courageously and gallantly took a flogging, was crucified, and died. But the truth of the Gospel is Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, our Passover Lamb died as our atoning sacrifice. Do you see the importance of knowing who Jesus is? Furthermore, if a man died for us, we would still be in our sins, but if God Himself died, we can be reconciled to the Father by faith in the Son. The Gospel is relatively simple: God saves sinners through the death, life, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The most important question you can answer is who is this man?

Luke helps us in this fact. Throughout the birth narratives, the angels announce who this child was (see 1:30-33; 35; 2:11). Note how Luke combines the genealogy with the Messiah legacy. In 3:38, he finishes with “Adam , son of God.”  In 4:3, the devil asks, “If you are the Son of God…”  Jesus, not Adam, is the true Son of God. Luke continues, in 4:22, the people ask, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”  Well, yes, He is, but He’s so much more. In chapter 5, the Pharisees show up for the first time. In verse 21, they ask, “Who is this man?”  Luke shows us that Jesus is sovereign over nature, disease, demons, illness, and even death itself. In chapter 7, it is said, “A great prophet has risen among us, and God has visited his people” (Luke 7:16). They are getting closer. He is more than Joseph’s son and even more than a prophet. 

There is great irony in chapter 8. Notice two things. First, in verse 28, demons knew exactly who Jesus was. According to the demons, He was “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.”  Also, notice when the demon-possessed man comes into his senses, he acknowledges Jesus as God. In verse 39, Jesus says, “Go back to your home and tell all that God has done for you.” And Luke tells us, “And off he went proclaiming throughout the town how much Jesus had done for him. Did you notice the subtle way Luke affirms the deity of Jesus? Jesus tells the man to go tell everyone about what God had done, and Luke says the man went and told everyone all that Jesus had done. Cleverly, Luke calls Jesus God. Do you see the irony to this pointt? The demon-possessed man was from a Gentile area. That means a demon and a Gentile knew who Jesus was, but the Jews are still trying to figure it out. Until that is, Peter dramatically confesses Jesus as “God’s Messiah” (Luke 9:20).

After this confession, Jesus began to teach about His impending suffering and death. It was against this backdrop that Jesus turned his head like flint and began the 81-mile journey to the cross. Who is the man they call Jesus? He is the promised Messiah. He is the one who was promised in the Garden. He is our Passover Lamb; He is the God/Man our atoning sacrifice. He is the worthy one. Allow your affections for Jesus to grow. Believe in Him. Trust Him, and join in the chorus in heaven and say, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev 5:12). This Easter season ask yourself, “Who is this man?”  When you figure it out, worship Him. He is ”the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world” (1 John 2:2). Jesus is none other than “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Praise His name forever. Trust in Him, and your faith will grow, and your fear will go.

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