Let These Words Sink In
Who is Jesus?
When we say that He is the Son of God, what do we mean?
Jesus said of Himself:
John 14:6 (NKJV) I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
If this is true, and it is, then nothing is more important than knowing who Jesus is.
Jesus spent three years with twelve men teaching them the truth about who He is. He did this so the world can know who He is. Jesus gives anyone who comes to Him free access without cost or charge. And yet in what seems like a contradiction, knowing Him cost everything. Jesus put it to His disciples as follows. He said:
Luke 9:23–24 (NKJV) 23If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Who is Jesus that He should demand such devotion? How can He promise that losing one’s life for His sake means saving that life? Indeed, as the officers sent to arrest Him said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46)
It is crucial that we understand just who Jesus is, so He took the time to give His closest disciples a visual of who He is. Luke 9:28-36 tells us that Jesus took Peter, John, and James with Him up on the mountain to pray. As always, we find Jesus communing with the Father. But, this time was different. Luke 9:29 tells us:
Luke 9:29 (NKJV) As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
We must understand that the word translated “white and glistening” could and should be translated as “flash or gleam like lightning.” This was not like a little glitter and light. Jesus became so brilliant that it was overwhelming. Listen to how Matthew describes what took place.
Matthew 17:2 (NKJV) His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Peter, James, and John knew that they were in the presence of someone much greater than themselves. As if seeing Jesus shining was not enough, Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the prophets - the Old Testament. And just to be clear about the connection, Luke tells us what they were discussing.
Luke 9:30–31 (NKJV) 30And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Do not miss that they appeared in glory, but what they were discussing was “His decease.” The Greek word Luke used was “Exodus,” which you will recognize as the title of the second book of the Old Testament and from which we get our English word “Exit.” Quite literally, they were talking about Jesus’ departure.
In other words, what Jesus was preparing to accomplish in Jerusalem was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Another significant detail, not to be missed, is that Moses and Elijah were two men who talked with God. God said of Moses:
Numbers 12:8 (NKJV) I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.
In seeming contradiction to this, the Lord says to Moses:
Exodus 33:20 (NKJV) You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.
The point is that the only way we look at God is through the Son. Look at what Colossians says about Jesus:
Colossians 1:15–17 (NKJV) 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
When Moses spoke with God face to face, it was with the pre-incarnate Christ. When God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and passed before Him, He gave Moses a glimpse of His glory but did not show His face. The only way anyone speaks face to face with God is through Jesus Christ, His one and only Son. When Peter, James, and John saw the glory of Jesus unveiled, they got a glimpse of who Jesus was and is. They received a visual of the person from who they were learning.
By this point, they had already witnessed Jesus feeding a vast crowd with five loaves and two fishes. They had seen Him walk on water and drank water that had been made into wine. They had seen numerous demons cast out, and many sick healed.
However, the momentary unveiling of Jesus’ glory was so overwhelming Luke tells us that Peter did not even know what He was saying when He suggested they build tabernacles. But, God Himself tied up the essential meaning of the revelation when He said:
Luke 9:35 (NKJV) This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!
When they came down off the mountain, a vast multitude met them. Because of all the things Jesus was doing, enormous crowds gathered wherever Jesus went. Now, the only ones who had seen His glory unveiled were Peter, James, and John, but the multitude had seen all the miracles and had seen the power of God at work. Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ closest companions and were entrusted with His greatest revelations. The crowds were entrusted with enough revelation that they could understand the truth. However, the disciples were given more revelation according to their faith and their willingness to believe.
As the crowd received glimpses of who Jesus is, they were drawn to Him and fascinated by Him. However, they showed that they did not comprehend the truth of who Jesus is. As Jesus continued to demonstrate who He is, He expressed frustration over their unbelief. He said:
Luke 9:41 (NKJV) O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?
Witnessing the miracles and the power of God was not enough to bring the crowds to faith, hence the word “faithless,” but I would like to focus on the word “perverse” for just a moment. Please bear with me as I give you the dictionary definition of the word that Luke used. He used the word “diastréphō” which is a compound word made up of “diá,” which means “through or thoroughly,” and which in this case intensifies “stréphō,” a word meaning “to turn.” So, putting “diá” and “stréphō” together, we get a word that means to “thoroughly turn into a new shape which is distorted, twisted, or perverted,” i.e., “opposite” from the shape it should be.
Jesus was not saying this to be harsh. He was pointing to the truth. Luke 9:43 tells us, “And they were all amazed at the majesty of God.” But Jesus perceived that they did not believe who He is. This is seen most clearly in the discussion Jesus had with the crowd after He fed the five thousand in John chapter six. We see there the turning or distorting of the truth. The crowd was about bread. They did not grasp the significance of what Jesus was trying to show them. They saw bread. They saw healing. They saw deliverance from psychological, demon based problems. And, of course, they wanted these things.
But, Jesus was pointing to a different problem. Earlier, in Luke 9:25, He asked the question:
Luke 9:25 (NKJV) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
As we come to verse 44 of Luke chapter 9, we come to a turning point. The turning point focuses on who Jesus is. As the transition takes place, we see, starting from Luke 9:51, that Jesus sets His face to go to Jerusalem to accomplish the work the Father gave Him to do. So, even though the bulk of the book of Luke remains, the rest of the book focuses on the end of Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point, Luke 9:44 tells us, “Everyone was marveling at the great things He was doing.”
Even though they were marveling, remember, they were perverting, making Jesus’ meaning into something opposite of what He was pointing to. Therefore, Jesus turned to His disciples, those whose job it would be to tell the world the truth, and said:
Luke 9:44 (NKJV) Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.
In the strongest words possible, Jesus tells the disciples, “listen, listen, listen.” “Get this message!” How important is the statement that follows, “Let these words sink down into your ears?”
It is crucial. This crucial truth was:
Luke 9:44 (NKJV) The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.
Men were marveling at the power of God, so why was it a betrayal to be in their hands? John tells us they wanted to make Him king!
If you will look back with me at where Luke chapter 9 starts, you will see that the question on Jesus’ mind was:
Luke 9:18 (NKJV) Who do the crowds say that I am?
A betrayal assumes that someone close to Jesus is going to hand Him over. The twelve were those with the most privileged position. They, of all people, saw who Jesus is. They, of all people, were given the truth. And yet, one of the twelve gave Him over into the hands of men.
Think with me. What did Judas get for His betrayal? Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. I understand this was the going price for a slave.
Judas was on the same wavelength as the crowd. Giving Jesus into the hands of the crowd was the natural result. The crowd wanted bread, healing, and deliverance. Judas wanted money. They saw Jesus as a great teacher, a prophet, even a man of God, but not as God come in human flesh.
That is why Jesus said of them:
Luke 9:41 (NKJV) O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?
They were faithless because, despite the evidence, they refused to believe that Jesus is God in human flesh, God incarnate.
The world and all it contains is His. If He wants us to have bread, He can give it to us without limit. If He wants us to have health, He can make us live forever. He is God, and He does whatever He pleases. He is not our genie. We are His creatures. His kingdom and purposes are so much greater than ours that we can not truly grasp how great and glorious they are. However, Jesus told us how we should live. He said:
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
We must seek the kingdom of God above all else. If we tell people to come to Jesus so they can have bread, we betray Jesus and them. I am not saying that Jesus will not give us bread if we need it. I am saying that Jesus, as God, has told us not to worry about bread. Leave that to Him, but we are to take up our cross daily and follow Him. We are to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. And trust that all these things shall be added to you.
If we have a problem, it is that we are faithless and do not know who Jesus is. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important in life than knowing Jesus. He is life. Eternal life is to know Him. He is true riches. He is true bread.
The gospel is the power of God to salvation. This is what matters. We are to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that He commanded us.
Our world is in turmoil. The Coronavirus is coming out in new strains. Politically we are facing unprecedented times. At such a time, we need to be reminded where our hope lies.
Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.