The Turning Point
As you read the book of Luke, you will encounter various people who are amazed by something that Jesus says or does. Often times, they respond in amazement with a question like “who is this Man? or Who is He that even the wind and seas obey?” Each time such a question is found, a contemplation has been recorded that delves deeper than simply seeking for information. The questions center around the identity of Jesus, as the Christ. In Luke 9:18-22 Jesus asks the disciples to share what the crowds have said about who Jesus is. Various answers follow.
Some mistake Jesus for John the Baptist, returned from the dead after having been executed by Herod. Maybe because of how Jesus preaches against sinfulness and calls for repentance. But, Jesus is not John the Baptist.
Some mistake Jesus for Elijah, returned to minister among God’s people. Maybe this was because of the miracles that Jesus performed throughout the region. But, Jesus is not Elijah.
Still, others believe Jesus to be one of the other prophets of old. Perhaps this is because of the prophetic authority and pronouncements that Jesus makes. But, Jesus is not one of the old prophets.
Jesus, after allowing the disciples to answer, asks them pointedly and personally “who do you say that I am?”. Peter’s confessional response is correct! Jesus is the Christ of God. That is the correct answer. But, is it the complete answer? This can only be gauged by their understanding of what the Christ was coming to do.
Jesus immediately begins to tell the disciples about how He will suffer, be rejected, be killed, and be raised. Why did Jesus do this? It was so that their understanding of His being the Christ, or Messiah could be more complete. In their minds, the Christ would deliver God’s Chosen People from foreign rule, poverty, and difficulty.
The description that Jesus shared involved dying to live. Very different from their presuppositions. Peter’s answer was correct, but his understanding of what the Christ of God was going to do still needed to grow. Nonetheless, Chapter 9 of Luke’s Gospel serves as a turning point. Through this confession, Peter has called Jesus the Christ of God. He may not have understood all that it entailed, but He at least knew that much.
None of us have it all figured out, but we must reach the turning point that happens when Jesus is confessed as Lord. From there, we can and should grow in our understanding as we walk with the Lord. Our presuppositions may be shattered, but Jesus came to fill needs that we didn’t even realize we had. He is not the savior we want, but the Savior we need!
Peter would go on to deny the Lord, after having been the one recorded as confessing Him to be the Christ of God. Even as we fail the Lord, may we go back to that turning point and remember that He is the one anointed by God to be the Savior. As much as we desire to hold fast to our confession, sometimes our lives will not match our mouths. The victory that Christ afforded on our behalf is present in those failures as well. Peter was upset with himself after he denied the Lord publicly. Peter was the one ready to fight! But that was not the way that Jesus would purchase his, or our redemption. If the way to victory was through persecution and trials and even the cross, Peter wasn’t sure if he wanted to be on board.
The Christ, or anointed one, came as a lamb. A sacrificial lamb. A lamb that would become the substitutionary atonement for the sins of all who believe. This Lamb, Jesus, had been anointed for such a purpose. They initially thought that Jesus would set up His earthly kingdom and cast off the bondage of Roman masters. But Jesus came to set the captives free from something far worse, sin. That kind of victory would require Jesus to lay down His life. Like a sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament.
Peter would have other great spiritual moments in his life, but they all really began after this turning point. From here, Peter would begin to understand more about how Jesus is the Christ. Eventually Peter would die the martyrs death, according to tradition. Peter’s confession was genuine, though his understanding grew over time.
Not only is Luke 9 a turning point in the Gospel of Luke, but it’s a turning point in the life of Peter. Have you had a turning point in your life? There is one way. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, the Christ of God.
This time Jesus came as the lamb, and the next time He will return as the Lion! Turn to the Lamb, or face the Lion.