Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Is Jesus the Messiah?
There are four great parts to God’s work in this dimension. They are 1) Creation (Genesis 1, 2), 2) Fall (Genesis 3), 3) Redemption (Genesis 4 – Revelation 18), and 4) Renovation (Revelation 19-22). God created something wonderful, we messed it up by rebelling against God’s authority in our lives and the rest of history has been pointing to how God Himself would redeem a fallen mankind. Eventually God will remake or renovate this universe into a place where fall is no longer a fear. In that kingdom there is a king—and the same One who created this universe will oversee its renovation. This is what we look forward to with eager anticipation and what gets us through living in this fallen creation.
In Luke Chapters 1 through 8 we see a Man introduced who is like no other who has ever lived. He speaks with authority and He acts with authority—so much so that the creation both seen and unseen obeys Him completely. For centuries God sent prophets that pointed to One who would be the Rescuer (called: The Messiah), who would rescue us from the fall and usher us into this new kingdom. Just who He was and how this rescue would take place was the subject of some debate, especially during the time Jesus walked the earth.
Jesus has laid hints about His identity but until now has not come out and declared who He is. I think the idea is that we can infer who He is by what He says and by what He does. In terms of identifying Jesus, we can look at Luke’s gospel like a peak. The question we’ve been asking in our study is: “Who is this Man?”. That question is answered in Chapter 9. Everything leading up to this point is prologue; everything after this point is the result of what we learn.
But not only do we get absolute clarity on Jesus’ identity (the who), but we also get a sense of timing (the how and when) and of the stakes of this revelation to the rest of mankind.
18 – 20
The first thing I want to point out here is the revelation that Jesus is God’s Messiah comes in the context of prayer. To understand who God is and what He requires of us comes not by talking about Him but by talking to Him.
Secondly we see that Jesus wants to know what people are saying about Him and His identity. Notice that the list exactly mirrors what Herod’s staff was telling him. So, in a sense, the popular belief about Jesus was summed up in that He was either John come back to life, Elijah (many believed Elijah would precede the Messiah due to: Malachi 4:5 “Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the LORD comes.”) or another of the ancient prophets. No one at this point seemed to put all the pieces together. And this age will never collectively put the pieces together about the identity of Jesus either. Some say He was a political activist who advocated peace and equality; others that He was a teacher of goodisms; others that He had God’s Spirit but was nothing more than a man who gives us an example of good living to emulate.
Jesus isn’t interested in what the people said about Him or what Herod thought of Him. He wanted to know how these men individually felt. And you know, you shouldn’t frame your idea of who you think Jesus is based on what others say either. You need to seriously consider what He said and what He did—engage your mind and ask God to give you wisdom—then make up your own mind about Him.
Peter, who spoke for the group, utters the two most powerful and important words a human can speak in recognizing and receiving what Jesus is about: “God’s Messiah.” Jesus is more than a self-help guru, more than an example of how to live, and more than an activist for change—He is the One anointed to single-handedly rescue mankind from the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
So now it’s out there in the open. Jesus is the Messiah. So you’d think with that cat finally out of the bag that Jesus would want to spread the word, to move on Jerusalem and kick Rome out and take up a nice cushy office in the Temple.
Not so—and the reason is that we move now from the “who” of the Messiah to the “how and when” of Messiah’s mission.
21 – 22
The popular Jewish view at the time was that of a political Messiah who would overthrow Rome and put Israel once again in the international spotlight. They were right—that the Messiah will take over. They were wrong about the timing, the order, and the magnitude. The Messiah will rule not just over Jerusalem, not only over the entire earth, but will rule the entire universe.
The Jews looked only for a political king—but had they read their Bible closely they would have seen a different Messiah emerge as well—that of a suffering Savior. Read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 for strong hints as to this Messiah. It wasn’t two people, as some suggested, but all rolled up into one. The order though is suffering Savior, then coming King.
I think it’s interesting to me that although there are strong indications of the true mission of Jesus in His first coming, the masses only embraced the second because it served what they wanted. They wanted the power and prominence but didn’t want to or were unaware of the bigger problem: that sin had separated them from their God and without dealing with sin—the coming King would be their enemy, not their ruler. There’s a picture of this in Israel’s first king: Saul. Saul was a king after man’s own heart—tall dark and handsome but very self-centered, arrogant, and not humbled before Yahweh. Jesus is like Israel’s second king: David—a man after God’s own heart, tremendously gifted yet deeply humble and submitted to God.
So why does Jesus tell His men “strictly” not to tell anyone? Because of the nature of His mission. You see, Jesus as the Messiah, as the suffering Savior, had to thread an incredibly thin needle in order to rescue mankind from the ravages of sin. To do that He had to die in a particular place (Jerusalem on Mt. Calvary where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac), at a particular time (Passover to fulfill the promise of what God pictured in the Passover rescue of Israel) by a particular people (the religious leaders of Israel had to reject Him as God rejected their false-form of Judaism).
To do that Jesus had to maneuver a great number of pieces. To make it known who He was too soon would have jeopardized the entire plan. The people would have forced him to become king as they did to Saul. He is the King, but He will not take His throne until everyone who will becomes part of His kingdom.
Notice too that Jesus very clearly tells the disciples exactly what to expect. Perhaps they were not taking good notes because by the time of the Crucifixion they were clueless.
So perhaps to counter the idea that now is the time to claim the office next to Jesus in the Temple, the Lord tells His men the way to become a part of His kingdom:
23 – 26
This is the three-part plan of salvation. 1) Deny yourself. We need to realize that we’ve blown it—both as the human race and as individuals—to live up to God’s goodness. 2) Take up his cross daily. This is where we come into His kingdom through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The Romans forced the condemned to take up their own cross—carry their own means of execution—in order to show their subservience to the power of Rome. We need to show our subservience to the rule of Jesus and our clinging to His death. By the way, this is a daily exercise of obedience. 3) Follow me. The word means: “to follow as a disciple” or “to join a side.”
So what are the ramifications of this decision—because it is a decision we all must make? To not make a decision here is to make one in the negative. But our age tries to convince us that there are other ways to get what makes us feel security, satisfaction, and purpose. As Jesus tells us, the world’s way is a false way and a trap.
To follow Him we must have a change of mind and heart. Our loyalties need to move from this age to Jesus’ kingdom. We can get all the toys, have all the power, intellect, physical beauty and prowess in this age—but we will be bankrupt in the age to come because only those who are like Jesus and as pure will get in.
This idea of being ashamed of the Son of Man is interesting. The word in the Greek means to feel shame for having believed the big lie—realizing the error of identifying with the wrong thing or person. If when you think of Jesus and His claims and you in relationship to Him—if you are not related to Him through adoption, feel ashamed and want to turn away from Him, then just realize that He will also turn away from you.
Don’t just read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, because the Messiah as King is also a huge theme in the Bible. Also look at Jeremiah 33, Psalm 2, Isaiah 9:6 among many others. If you’ve aligned with Jesus, thrown your lot in with Him, that will be a day of rejoicing. If instead you’re embarrassed and ashamed, then it will be a dark day for you. And I don’t want that for any of us!
Jesus isn’t just thinking about the suffering Savior part of His mission either—He’s thinking about the coming kingdom. And as we finish this portion of Chapter 9 Jesus is going to give some of His men a glimpse of that kingdom and the new reality He offers all who love Him. In this case it’s going to be Peter, James, and John—which we’ll get to next time at the Mount of Transfiguration.
So what should we make of this? Why should I care about whether Jesus is the Messiah or not? Does it really matter? It actually matters a great deal. I mentioned Genesis earlier. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given free reign in that paradise. The only thing God told them not to do was eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This, by the way, didn’t have anything to do with knowing right and wrong. To eat of that tree would be to disobey God. Adam and Eve already knew good – but that act of obedience would open up a door to evil. In fact, the Hebrew word “evil” in Genesis 2 can mean “misery, woe, grief, and harm.” That’s the result of disobeying God—separation from God and introduction to grief. It wasn’t the fruit; it was eating the fruit in rebellion.
But in God’s response to this act, He offered a promise of rescue.
Genesis 3:15 “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” The word “seed” there is masculine singular. So one of their descendants would rescue them by crushing the enemy that tempted them to disobey. God zeroed in first on a man (Abram) then on a nation (Israel) and finally back to a Man (Jesus) as THE rescuer to bring us back to the Father we abandoned in the Garden.
Jesus said: John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus as the Messiah is the only way out of this mess.
For those who already know Jesus I think we can glean a couple of important things:
- Do you pray to understand God and His plan for you on an ongoing basis?
- Do you base your opinion on Jesus by what others say about Him or the current popular opinions?
- Do you understand the cost of belonging to Him—of changing ownership of your life and values?