JESUS CHALLENGES EVERYONE TO KNOW HIS TRUE IDENTITY AND TO RESPOND TO HIS REDEMPTIVE MISSION
At this stage in the training of the twelve, it is time for their final exam. There is really only one question that matters – but it matters to the extent that it determines your eternal destiny. What is your confession regarding the identity of Jesus Christ? We will see that the multitudes have differing opinions – and their speculations are highly favorable – but they fall short of truly understanding the supreme identity of Jesus. Peter serves as a spokesman for the entire group as he often does and verbalizes the correct answer – but still needs additional teaching to flesh out the implications of Jesus being the Messiah of God.
Donald Miller: Jesus had not openly declared himself as Messiah. The demons had witnessed to him (4:41; 8:28), and he had claimed that in himself the sings of the Messianic Age were fulfilled (7:22). His words, too, as we have seen, were indirect testimonies to his Messianic significance. But, true to his decision at the Temptation (4:1-13), he had taken no measures to proclaim himself openly, either y wonders or by force. Knowledge of his true nature must rest on faith, and faith alone. Hence, Jesus draws from the disciples their confession, rather than putting it into their mouth.
Wiersbe: People had better know who He is, because what we think about Jesus determines our eternal destiny (John 8:24; 1 John 4:1-3). It is impossible to be wrong about Jesus and right with God.
I. (:18-19) CONFUSION OF THE MULTITUDES REGARDING THE IDENTITY OF JESUS = HUMAN OPINION
A. (:18) Key Question – What is the Word on the Street?
“And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him,
and He questioned them, saying, ‘Who do the multitudes say that I am?’”
Constable: Luke omitted several incidents here that the other evangelists included (Matt. 14:22-16:12; Mark 6:45-8:26; John 6:16-66). By doing so, he tied the questions of Herod and the multitude about Jesus’ identity with Peter’s answer to that question. This selection of material helps the reader see that the question of Jesus’ identity was very important to Luke. (Luke 9)
Craddock: Mark locates Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi, but the last geographical reference cited in Luke is Bethsaida (9:10). Luke seems uninterested in geography here. His concern is to locate this event in the prayer life of Jesus
Sermonwriter.com: The crowds have been important in this Gospel. The crowds went to be baptized by John (3:7). The crowds looked for Jesus (4:42), gathered to hear him and to be cured (5:15), and pressed in on him (8:42). Jesus taught the crowds (5:3), questioned them (7:24). Now Jesus asks who these crowds think that he is.
B. (:19) Speculative Answers
1. Resurrected John the Baptist
“And they answered and said, ‘John the Baptist,’”
Jesus preached a similar message of repentance
2. Return of Elijah
“and others say Elijah;”
Jesus was a miracle worker of the highest order
3. Resurrected Prophet
“but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”
J. Ligon Duncan: To say that Jesus is John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet or the one who has taught us to love or who fought for righteousness and justice and morality in society is not to do Him justice. They’re meant to be compliments you understand, but they don’t live up to who He is.
II. (:20) CONFESSION OF PETER REGARDING THE IDENTITY OF JESUS = DIVINE REVELATION
A. Key Question
“And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’”
B. Correct Answer
“And Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’”
Sermonwriter.com: The Jewish people had, for centuries, looked for the Messiah—a deliverer. They anticipated that this Messiah would be a king of the type of King David, a mighty warrior who would liberate Israel from oppression (personified in Jesus’ day by Roman soldiers occupying Israel) and restore the nation’s former glory. When Peter says that Jesus is “The Christ of God,” this is surely what he expects.
Hendriksen: Since the question had been put to all, that is, to The Twelve, and none objected to the answer, we may safely assume that here, as well as in the parallel passages (Matt. 16:16; Mark 8:29), Peter was the spokesman for all. He often acted in this capacity (Matt. 15:15, 16; 19:27, 28; 26:35, 40, 41; Mark 1:36; Luke 8:45; 9:32, 33; 12:41; 18:28; John 6:67-69; Acts 1:15; 2:14, 37, 38; 5:29)….The importance of this momentous confession can hardly be exaggerated. It implies that The Twelve here acknowledge Jesus to be no less than the long-awaited One, God’s Anointed, the Messiah. What the confession does not imply, however, is that The Twelve, or even Peter himself, understood in what sense Jesus was the Christ. It would take these men a very long time to learn this
III. (:21-22) CAUTION AND CLARIFICATION REGARDING MESSIANIC MISSION
A. (:21) Surprising Caution
“But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,”
Lenski: One great task had been accomplished: the disciples had been brought to a full realization of the divine person of Jesus as Peter had just voiced this conviction for the Twelve. Another task had to be completed: the disciples and to be made to realize the redemptive work that Jesus was about to conclude.
B. (:22) Shocking Clarification – Redemptive Aspect of Messianic Mission
“The Son of Man must suffer many things,”
“and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes,”
Morris; The one article in the expression points to the fact that the three formed a single group in the Sanhedrin.
MacArthur: That’s a stunner of all stunners, killed by the religious establishment of the people He came to. What a blow to messianic hopes. They had just reached the pinnacle of affirmation that He’s the Messiah, and now they’re told don’t tell anybody about it, this is judicial, don’t tell anybody around here about this. The plan is not that we become king now; the plan is death, death at the hands of Jewish leaders. But that’s because as Mark 10:45 says, “The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many,” came to be “made sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He came to bear the curse for us. He came to bear in His own body our sins on the cross. And then, verse 22 says, “be raised up on the third day.”
“and be killed,”
“and be raised up on the third day.”