June 28 – Confusing and Challenging

Luke 9: 18 – NLT

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

18 One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

19 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”

20 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”

Jesus is asking his disciples if they had any idea what the results of a poll would be.

Who is Jesus?

After Jesus fed the 5000 related in John’s gospel, John wrote: “When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” (John 6: 14 – 15) In Luke, the disciples reply with several answers to the question – John the Baptist, Elijah, and some other ancient prophet risen from the deaf. The Jewish people were aware of Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah who would return Israel to its former glory as it ruled the earth, but they didn’t understand (or maybe preferred to ignore) the prophecies that predicted suffering. As the crowds followed Jesus, they saw miracles of healing and they also were fed. The crowds grew bigger.

When Peter answered the question, he gave the right answer. “You are the Messiah sent from God!” But he didn’t really comprehend what that actually meant. We will see that as we continue to read through Luke. Peter knew Jesus was very special, but he certainly didn’t see suffering as the goal. But Jesus did, and he began preparing them for what was coming.

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. 22 “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

I wonder what the disciples thought when they heard Jesus say he would be rejected and be killed? Sometimes we have a tendency to just skip over things we’d prefer not to hear. I know I do. I’ll tell myself not to get stressed and be positive – look at the bright side. But Jesus is continuing with more instructions that again, if I were there, I might want to put aside. “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Am I willing to put God first? Am I willing to be identified as a Christ follower? I don’t think that means I can’t enjoy the career I have, or enjoy my home, family and friends. But where is my focus? Is it getting ahead in my career? Is it acquiring a bigger, lovelier home? Is it having fun? Is it saving lots of money? Jesus tells us that if our focus is on the things of this world, this present life, we’ll actually lose.

This really makes me stop and think. How much time do I spend with God, on the things that matter to him? How much do I help others? How often am I willing to share my faith with others? If I were to look at how I behaved in the past week – how much time have I spent with God, how many times did I pray asking for guidance about everyday events …? Is God kind of a Sunday event? Or is he crucial to my every day?

I am so glad God is patient with me. We see him being patient with the disciples. He begins telling them what is ahead here in Luke 9, knowing it will take a lot of time for them to understand. In fact, they really didn’t start to grasp what it was all about until Acts 1 and 2, at Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

And so, the Holy Spirit works patiently with each one of us, helping us to understand God’s will for our lives.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[a] in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8: 26 – 28)

Am I listening? Am I paying attention?

Our song for today is Strength Will Rise (Everlasting God) by Chris Tomlin

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