Daily D – Luke 9:18-20
While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” “But you,” he asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
LUKE 9:18-20 (CSB)
My coworker Becky and I are working with a group on Monday that we have worked with before in creating an executable vision plan. It is amazing how many individuals and organizations claim to have a vision from God about their future but that vision remains stuck somewhere in the future. Without an executable plan, nothing gets done.
Our work on Monday is an evaluation of what has been accomplished in the first part of their execution plan and a determination of their next steps in answer to the question, “What’s important now?”
In Luke 4, Jesus provides his execution plan, which includes an actual execution, come to think of it. We have the story of Jesus returning to his hometown synagogue in verses 16-30. In verses 17-19 we are told, “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent me
to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus began his commentary by saying, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled,” (verse 21).
Jesus hereby laid out his ministry plan. Next thing you know, people “were astonished at his teaching because his message had authority,” (verse 32). Then he set free a bedeviled man (verses 33-37). Then he healed people all night long beginning with Peter’s mother-in-law (verses 38-41).
Next we see Jesus teaching from Peter’s boat due to the crowds while Peter, John, and James cleaned and stowed their equipment after a long night of fishing. After Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to pull out the equipment and get back to fishing, something everyone knew was counterproductive in the bright daylight. They caught so many fish it took two boats to haul them all in and they began to sink.
Peter “fell at Jesus’s knees and said, ‘Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!’” (5:8). Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid” (verse 10).
Next, Jesus healed a man with leprosy (verses 12-14). Then a Bible conference was interrupted when someone tore off the roof and lowered a crippled man down in front of Jesus. He forgave the man’s sins and healed his disability (verses 17-26).
Moving on, Jesus called Levi to follow him as one of his disciples. Levi threw a party so that all of his friends could meet Jesus. This was not popular with the religious leaders because Levi was a tax collector and his friends were not the religious type. Jesus replied that sick people need a doctor (verses 27-32).
In 6:6 and following we find the story of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath in a synagogue. Again, this was against the rules the religious leaders put up to protect a person from actually breaking a rule. (It’s complicated.) Jesus arrived at a place where he healed people of their diseases and made well those tormented by evil spirits (verses 17-19). The rest of this chapter contains Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.
Next, Jesus is amazed at the faith of a Roman centurion (7:1-10). He heals the centurion’s servant from afar. Then Jesus and his followers met a funeral procession of the only son of an aging mother. Jesus raised the man to life who woke up with a lot to say (verses 11-17).
It is at this point that we find the first check-in to see how Jesus is doing on the mission he laid out in chapter 4. Some of John the Baptist’s disciples arrived with a question regarding whether Jesus was the Messiah or if someone else was coming. Jesus said, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me,” (verse 22).
Jesus was a houseguest at a man of great respect. A disreputable woman came and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears, precious perfume, and her hair (verses 36-50). She who sinned much was forgiven much and expressed great gratitude. She went away changed forever.
Jesus next calms a storm on the sea and asks a simple question, “Where is your faith?” This led the disciples to ask themselves, “Who then is this? He commands even the wind and the waves, and they obey him!” (8:22-25)
Jesus drove out the legion of demons from a man who lived in the graveyard (verses 26-39). Picking up where he left off after being invited to leave the graveyard, a woman who suffered for years was healed as Jesus was on his way to see about a little girl who was desperately ill. News came on the way that the girl had died. Jesus raised her from the dead (verses 40-56).
Herod wanted to see Jesus. He previously wanted to see John too and that did not end so well. Jesus declined the invitation (9:7-9). Then Jesus fed five thousand people or more with a starter kit of five loaves and two fish (verses 10-17).
It is here in the story when Jesus asked his question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” You will notice that what the disciples report is nearly word for word what Herod was told people said about Jesus in verses 7-9.
Looking back on everything to this point, had Jesus fulfilled the mission he laid out in chapter 4?
In 4:22 we see two reactions to Jesus: “They were all speaking well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his mouth; yet they said, ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’”
They had to make a decision that day. Who was Jesus? Was he Joseph’s son, or was he God’s son? They decided he was Joseph’s son.
Peter who had been there from the beginning and had seen everything made a firm decision and declaration when Jesus asked, “But you, who do you say that I am?”
For him, there were no lingering questions. “God’s Messiah,” was the only logical conclusion.
To you, who is Jesus?
If you still find yourself on the fence at best or in denial at worst, keep reading. Other check-ins are coming.
I will see Jesus for who he is: God’s Messiah.
Dear Jesus, help us to always see you for who you are. Do not allow us to be confused by what others say about you. May we each come to know you and experience you as you want to be known and experienced. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)