This morning I’m chewing on what I didn’t chew on. A bit in wonder at what I failed to pause in awe over. Thankful that I went back randomly to see what I was thinking on this day in my reading plan 10 years ago and a bit embarrassed of how quickly I passed over it this morning. “Who do you say that I am?” It’s the million-dollar question. And they nailed it. He was the Christ, the promised Messiah. But then, He tells them He will be a crucified Christ. How would that have landed the first time they heard it? How should that land this morning as I read it for the umpteenth time? Here’s how I processed it back in 2012.
I think it must have separated their heads from their shoulders . . . I can see them doing the classic double-take snap of the head as they exclaim, “What?!?” Their brows are furled . . . they are scratching their heads . . . it just does not compute. They had been following Him for about two years . . . during that time they had left everything . . . and they had seen Him do amazing things . . . and they couldn’t help but be wondering, “What sort of man is this?” And just when they thought they were starting to get it . . . just when they were starting to see the picture that all the pieces, when put together, was forming . . . then He drops the bombshell . . .
Then He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” And He strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
(Luke 9:20-22 ESV)
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this wondrous declaration by Peter . . . and pair it with, what must have been, this mind-blowing revelation by Jesus. Once the disciples had started to get who Jesus was, Jesus then began to teach them that He must suffer and die and rise again. Personally, I don’t think they heard the “rise again” part . . . especially the first time that Jesus told them.
Think about it . . . the lights were finally starting to go on. This man they had been following was anything but “just a man” . . . He was the Christ of God . . . the Anointed . . . the Messiah . . . the Son of God. That was the only explanation for how He could teach with such authority . . . the only conclusion as to how He could know all that He knew about those around Him . . . the only rationale as to where the power came from which allowed Him to perform such miracles. It had to be Him . . . the promised One . . . the heir to David’s throne . . . the hope of Israel. Can you imagine the joy that came over them the very first time they articulated that Jesus must be the Christ. Horns start blaring . . . confetti and streamers start falling . . . the crowd of angels in unseen heavenly balconies are going nuts with applause and cheering, “Yes!!! They’re getting it!!! Did you hear them? . . . they’re starting to see it . . . they’re beginning to believe it . . . they said it . . . He is the Christ of God!”
And then . . . smack down! . . . dowse the flame with water . . . snatch away the candy from the baby . . . the Son of Man must suffer . . . be rejected . . . be killed . . . and again, I don’t think they even heard the rise again part.
There’s no way they could have made sense of it. How could the Promise they had been waiting centuries for be rejected? How could the Son of God suffer at the hands of men? How could Messiah die?
And I’m sitting here . . . on the other side of the cross . . . with the Spirit that raised Him from the dead residing within me, illuminating afresh to me this ancient conversation . . . and I’m in wonder as well. How, apart from the Sovereign purposes of grace, does this make any sense at all?
This is so not intuitive . . .
But behold, this is the love of God! . . . this is the good news! . . . this is my salvation!
That Jesus, the Christ of God, would come first as the Lamb of God . . . rejected . . . suffering at the hands of men . . . crucified by those He came to save . . . in order to atone for the sin of all men and women . . . in order to provide a path of reconciliation with God for all who would believe . . . in order to redeem that which was lost.
O, what a Savior!