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Sunday, June 4, 2017

posted Jun 4, 2017, 8:20 PM by Site Administrator

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THE CHRIST OF GOD

 

Luke 9:18-27

Key Verse 9:20

 

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

 

First, "Who do you say I am?" (18-22). Look at verse 18. “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” According to the record of Matthew’s gospel, the location was Caesarea Philippi, 110 miles north of Jerusalem, in the northernmost part of Palestine. From here, Jesus would make his last journey to Jerusalem to die as the Lamb of God. It was the end part of his public ministry. There, as the conclusion of his public ministry, Jesus asked the disciples about people's general opinion about him. At this, they replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." People's general opinion about Jesus was pretty good. They understood him as a great man of God, not just a man of God, but a great man of God like John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the great prophets in the Old Testament. We can see that none of them could agree 100% as to who he was. Some say this, some say that and still others say another thing. We see that their understanding of Jesus eventually came from their guess work. They heard about Jesus; they saw him performing miracles; even they attended his Bible study classes. Then, they gathered all information about him, analyzed it, and drew a conclusion. So, their opinion about Jesus differed from each other, and none of their answers was right, because, in the true sense, none of them knew who Jesus was personally.  

 

Today, people basically consider Jesus very highly as one of the four saints in history. Some people consider him as a great humanitarian who stood on the side of lowly people; some people consider him as a great revolutionary. About two decades ago, I think it was Time magazine, they listed 100 most influential people in history, and they listed Jesus in the fourth, and his disciple, the apostle Paul in the first, saying that what Jesus did was in Israel, but Paul served Asia and Europe. In 2012, they did the same thing, and this time, they changed their method of measuring greatness by following the algorithm of Google search engine, and listed Jesus in the first. Over time people’s idea about Jesus changes based on what they read in magazines and books and what they hear from others, and even movies. People don't know who Jesus is.

 

If people had such a high opinion about us, we would be glad. But Jesus was not happy with it, because they failed to know him really. So, he asked the disciples another question, saying, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?" Jesus wanted to know their personal opinion about him. No matter what others said of Jesus, what would the disciples say of him? For the past three years, the disciples had had life together with him; they had studied the Bible with him; they had heard his messages; they had watched him performing many miracles. Unlike the crowds, they had the best chance to know him really. What would they say of him? At this, Peter answered, "The Christ of God." Jesus was glad because that was the right answer.

 

At the end part of his public ministry, Jesus asked his disciples two questions, and both questions were all about who Jesus was. This shows the real focus of Jesus' ministry, that was, revealing himself to people. Through his messages, through his miracles, through his tender shepherding, Jesus had revealed himself to people, both the crowd and his disciples so that, eventually, they might come to know who he really was. That was the whole focus of Jesus' ministry; that was Jesus' intention for the crowd and the disciples. Today, this is what Jesus intends. We live as Jesus' disciples, doing many things - fishing, teaching the Bible to college students, writing testimonies and sharing them, selling leis and making ribbons, and even doing yard sale. But we must never forget that the real thing through all these activities and struggles, is to know who Jesus really is. Who is Jesus to you? When you know him as a worthy person of your life as your God, your Master, your Owner, your Savior, you live for him devoting your life to him completely. But if you don't know him that way, then, you do not live for him; instead, you live for something else or someone else you think of worthy of your life. Who is Jesus to you? Who do you say Jesus is?

 

Peter's answer was: The Christ of God. The Christ in Greek is the "Messiah" in Hebrew, which both mean, "the Anointed One." The Christ of God means the One who is anointed by God. This anointing of God shows God's personal selection and assignment. In Genesis 3:15, God talked about a woman's offspring who would crush the head of Satan, and thereby set all mankind free from his tyranny. Now about 4,000 years later, God chose Jesus, his Son to be that person, the woman's offspring, and sent him to the world to fulfill his prophecy. Jesus is the Christ of God. When you confess that Jesus is the Christ of God, you show your understanding, your belief of all fallen men's stuck condition due to Adam's sin and their own sins, and the need of the Savior. At the same time, you show that only in Jesus, there is salvation from your stuck condition because only Jesus is God's Anointed One - God's Messiah. This is your confession of faith that only Jesus is the one who can bring you back to the paradise, which Adam lost. Jesus is your Savior, and Jesus is the One who brings you to Paradise; Jesus is the fulfillment of your life. Because of this faith and understanding, you happily welcome Him as your Savior; you welcome Him as the most essential part of your life. So, you cannot be without him; you pursue Him and remain in him. When you confess Jesus as the Christ, indeed, it is your confession of faith of all these.

 

Second, "If anyone would come after me..." (22-27).Look at verse 22. Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Since they knew him as the Christ of God, Jesus showed them what he would do as the Christ - suffering, death and resurrection of the Christ - that's what the Bible talked about, and that's what he would do as the Christ. That's the way of the Christ. The disciples might have some idea about what Jesus would do as the Christ such as destroying the Roman Empire and restoring the kingdom to IsraelBut it was nothing but some fantasy in their mind, or their wishful thinking based on their own condition. But now they needed to understand him and his life based on the word of God. This must have been very shocking to them.

 

Look at verse 23. Let's read this verse together:

 

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  

 

He now showed them how they must follow him as his disciples. They were following Jesus as his disciples, but most likely, with some fantasy in their mind, expecting that, once Jesus established the Messianic Kingdom, they would occupy all high positions. Now Jesus showed them the way they shouldfollow him - deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow him. Actually, that's the very way of life he lived as the Christ - dedicating himself to God's will and purpose by denying his own plans and desires, then, taking up the cross of mission to the point of death in obedience and submission to God's will. Jesus lived that way, and now his disciples should live in the same way - that's how they could follow him. Eventually, the way of the Christ and the way of the disciples are the same way of life, and it can be described as "the way of the cross." 

 

People believe in Jesus, but with just some fantasy in mind, saying, "I will go to heaven when I die," or "I will reign with him forever," or "I will be the world class spiritual leader." Or, they have no idea about how they should follow him, just thinking that, because they believe in Jesus, everything will go very well in their favor - very blind and ignorant; so, they just live a religious life, going to church once a week and doing some Christian things. They do not know the way of Christians, the way of Jesus' disciples.

 

Now to all these people who believe in him and who want to follow him, Jesus shows how they can follow him and how they must follow him - deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him. 1) Deny yourself: It means to deny your own dreams, desire, plans, and even emotions so that you can pursueGod's will and purpose. This is the first condition for all those who believe in Jesus. 2) Take up your cross daily: Your cross is something you must do. As students, what is your cross? Studying and doing homework is your cross. When you graduate, what is your cross? It is to get a job and support yourself. Once you marry, you must support, uphold and protect your family - that's your cross. And as God's servants, what is your cross? It is to serve God's mission faithfully. How should we live our Christian life? By taking up all these crosses daily and faithfully. 3) Follow me: As Christians who believe in Jesus as your Savior, follow him, not something else or someone else. Your life goal, your purpose in life is Jesus Christ alone.

 

The Christian life Jesus describes here is neither theological nor religious; it is not about learning some Bible expressions and doing some Christian things; it is not about attending worship service once a week, constantly checking out your watch, thinking about playing golf after worship service. Instead, it is very real and practical. When you live your Christian life in this way, then, you are fully committed to God, pursuing God alone, dedicating yourself to God's work completely, giving very good influence to the people around you - at work, at school, at home and at the church. Nothing - neither poverty nor persecution, neither persecutions nor temptations - can stop you from loving God and serving His mission wholeheartedly. And your Christian life is not boring at all, but very dynamic, powerful and action-packed. People can smell the good fragrance of Jesus Christ from you.

 

Look at verse 24. Let's read this verse together:

 

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

 

This verse starts with "For," which means, "Because." Here, Jesus explains why they must come after him by denying themselves, taking up their cross daily and following him. Christians must come after Jesus in that way, because that's the only way they can save their life. Here, Jesus describes the disciples way of life - denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following him - as losing your life for him and thereby, eventually saving it. If you lose your life for Jesus by denying yourself and taking your cross and following him, you will save your life; otherwise, you will lose it. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it. If the apostle Peter wants to save his life, he will lose it. But if he loses it for Jesus, he will save it. If the apostle John wants to save his life, he will lose it, but if he loses it, he will save it.

 

Many people have a heart's desire for Jesus, but a lot of them fail to follow him in the way he shows, and thereby, eventually, they do not follow Jesus, but follow something else or someone else, even if they may still say, "I believe in Jesus," or even if they may still go to church. Why? In Jesus' eyes, the reason is because they want to save their life. They have something they desire such as a career dream, marriage dream or great success, or a small citizen's dream; they value it highly and they want to pursue it and fulfill it. In that way, they want to save their life. Now, the first condition for them to follow Jesus is to deny themselves in regard to such things so that they can really pursue Jesus, not those things. But many people refuse to deny themselves in regard to such things so that they can save their life. Such people don't follow Jesus, even if they still say, "I believe in Jesus," or they still go to church. They are following their own dreams and desires.

 

Jesus says, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it."These people even deny God's will and calling for their life so that they can pursue what they really desire. That much they are wholehearted to pursue and fulfill their dreams and desires. Such wholehearted pursuit of things other than God is the very concept of idolatry. The problem is: even if they save their life, even if they fulfill their dreams and desires in regard to job, marriage or family, they lose their life. What does it mean to "lose one's life"? It means to lose the very one life God has given you. You have one life to live, but at the end of your life, you look back, and you realize that you have lost it, because you wasted it for worthless things, without doing anything meaningful and lasting. At that time, your life carries no value, no purpose and no meaning at all. God has given you this one life, but you have wasted it for nothing. "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it." Even if they secure what they have valued and pursued, sooner or later they find that it does not carry any meaning, any value and any purpose - dream marriage partner, the prince charming turns out to be an idiot, the beautiful princess turns out to be a spoiled brattheir dream career jobturns out to be a headache, and money does not mean anythingany longerThey tried to save it even to the point of turning down God's will and calling for them, even denying God's grace upon their life through their shepherds. But all those things have no value, no meaning to them at all; they have wasted their life. We must not live this way. 

 

Instead, we must save our life - this one life God has given us, we must not waste it; instead, we must use it very wisely and effectively so that it may carry real value, real meaning and purpose; at that time, our life will be truly successful, and when we live that kind of life, we will be truly satisfied and happy with our life - no regret at all. Then, in order to save our life, in order to live our life really successfully, how should we live? This is a good question. Jesus shows us the way of life, saying, "Whoever loses his life for me will save it." We must live the life of losing it for Jesus, that's the way to save it.

 

What does it mean to "lose one's life for Jesus"? It means to deny ourselves, letting go of our own dreams, desires and plans in regard to career matter, marriage matter, and family matter,... so that we can follow Jesus continually. Such struggle, such practices are painful. We do it with many tears and pains. Jesus describes such struggles as "losing our life for him," showing his full appreciation of our love for him. With such struggles, we continue to follow Jesus, seeking him and his will. We lose our worldly treasures in this life for Jesus and the gospel. When we do so continually, our life is really dedicated to God and his purpose all the way, and at that time, our life comes to carry real value, meaning and purpose. Our life is not wasted in worthless things, but used for God's purpose. Such life carries real value and meaning. Such people have saved their life. When we think about this passage carefully, we see that only Jesus' disciples have a chance to save their life, because only they can lose it for Jesus. Without believing in Jesus as the Savior, without knowing him and loving him, how can anyone lose his or her precious dreams and desires and plans for Jesus continually? It is impossible. So, all those people in the world who do not believe in Jesus live the life of wanting to save it, by pursuing their dreams and desires and plans, and all of them testify the same thing - meaningless! Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless! Utterly meaningless! We Christians are really blessed because now we have a chance to save our life. We must not blow this chance only because of some worldly dreams or fleshly desires; instead, we must save our life by losing it for Jesus.

 

Look at verse 25. Let's read this verse together:

 

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

 

Here, Jesus comes up with a hypothetical scenario - the most successful scenario ever possible in regard to struggling to save one's life. Let's say, this person pursued his dream wholeheartedly, even denying God's will and calling in his life, and as a result, he got what he had desired, becoming very successful - he gained the whole world. In money area, he is the richest person in the world; in his own area, he becomes the most successful and famous and influential person (Steven Spielberg in movie production, Tiger Woods in Golf, Picasso in arts, Michael Jackson in music,...) It is not easy to be this much successful, even if you wholeheartedly pursue your dreams; if you are successful like this, you are really lucky. But even if you gain the whole world, what good is it for you because you lose or forfeit your very self?

 

Seeking one's own dreams or desires or plans wholeheartedly like this is the way they lose or forfeit their own self. Instead of living their own life, they live life valuing and pursuing what the world suggests - as they pursue such things wholeheartedly, they lose their own self. They do not live their life for themselves, but live for the things the world suggests - this is how they lose or forfeit their very self. So, even the best scenario possible, which usually does not occur, is not good. So, why should you go in that way? Don't go in that way! It is the surest way to lose your very self. Instead, save it by losing it for Jesus, for God's kingdom work. Deny yourself for Jesus Christ and pursue him, and you will have real life and you will live life for yourself really. 

 

Look at verse 27. Let's read this verse together:

 

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  

 

Who is the one who is ashamed of Jesus and his words? He is the one who chose to save his life even rejecting God's will and God's calling. When they compared their life of living for Jesus by denying themselves and taking up the cross to the life of pursuing and securing their dreams, they did not like the life of living for Jesus. The life of pursuing and securing their dreams and desires and plans in the world looked so glamorous and wonderful. Compared to it, the life of living for Jesus by denying their dreams and desires looked so boring, poor, not so desirable at all; they didn't want to live that kind of life. So, they turned their faces away from the life of Jesus' disciples so that they could greet to their dreams and success with smiles. Jesus described them as those who were ashamed of him and his words. Then, when Jesus comes again with his glory with all the angels, he will be ashamed of them, turning his face away from them, and they will be utterly ashamed before all heavenly hosts.As Jesus' disciples, we must make our heart's firm determination of what kind of life we are going to live. Which one do you choose? The life together with Jesus by denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following him, or the life with your dream job, or marriage or success? In the way you treat Jesus, he will treat you when he comes again.

 

Look at verse 27. Let's read this verse together:

 

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

 

This is Jesus' encouraging comment for his disciples to choose the way of the disciples, the life of losing it for him. If you live the life of denying yourself, taking up the cross and following Jesus, you come to have amazing experiences of meeting God personally, or you will come to have many miraculous and mysterious experiences people cannot understand. Once you experience God this way, your eyes are opened to Him and to the kingdom of God, and you begin to see everything differently; then, suddenly all the glamorous things of this world suddenly lose their value in your eyes. When the apostle Paul experienced the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ, he considered all the good looking things of this world such as his lawyer's license, his promising future, his secured comfortable life, high paying job and everything simply rubbish; he even considered them as loss, because, due to such things, he lost some chances to experience and know Jesus. Pursue the life of following Jesus, and God will bless you greatly.

 

One Word:Whoever Loses His Life For Jesus Will Save It

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