You Are the Christ
Eric Sears
Luke 9:18-27
February 10, 2018

Hello, my name is Eric Sears, good morning, hi. Obviously, I'm not pastor Steve, as we said he's out of town. But with that being said, I have noticed it's a team that doughnuts need to be mentioned at least once per sermon. I'd like to say that my love of doughnuts rivals Pastor Steve’s, which is why he's letting me preach today, I'm a hundred percent positive of that. So let me tell you a little bit about myself before we dive into our passage today. As I said, my name is Eric Sears and I work for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on the Colorado Mesa University campus. Intervarsity is a Christian ministry on campus. That’s, whose goal is to see every corner, that's every area of campus transformed by Jesus gospel. So practically what that looks like is that I spend a lot of time helping students lead Bible studies on campus. For me, in particular this year I've helped a student start, a Bible stay specifically for Latino students. The senior student looked at the campus and said I don't think Latino students are being reached by any of the campus ministries. It’s my job to come alongside him and help him to reach out to Latino students. My wife Lydia does a very similar thing. She also works for Intervarsity and she helps to students reach out to international students. These two students said, we don't see international students being reached out to, and so it's Lydia's job to come alongside them and help them reach an unreached area of our campus. So, as I saw with pastor Steve about preaching this week, while he's gone, he invited me to share passage with you that has influenced the direction of my life. It’s a passage that confronted me as a freshman in college, and radically altered how I viewed myself, the world around me and my goals and ambitions: it's the passage that also influenced my decision to go into ministry, so for our time together today, I’d like to spend time looking at Luke, chapter 9, verses, 18 through 27 and then share with you how this has influenced my story, if you are able, would you please stand with me, as I read from Luke chapter 9: verses 18 through 27. Now it happened that as he, that's Jesus, was praying alone. The disciples are with him, and he asked them, who do the crowds say that I am? and they answered John the Baptist, but others say Elijah and others that one of the prophets of old has risen. 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, be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed. The third day be raised. And he said to all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will save it. For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits his very self. For whoever is ashamed of me and my words of him the Son of man will be ashamed, when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the Holy Angels. But, I tell you truly, there's some standing here today who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God. This is the word of the Lord. You may be seated.

 

Before we begin looking at our text today, I'd like to make an observation about our culture and it's that, sadly, we've become self-obsessed and a clear and humorous example of this, I think, is the selfie culture. So in working with college students, I constantly see them taking pictures of themselves to post online on social media, and so some students are particularly active with this and post, something like every five minutes, and so they post things like you know, just got out of bed, managed to brush my teeth this morning, some are really into their foods. They talked about egg white and spinach omelet for breakfast hashtag diets, hashtag new year new you some are particularly dangerous and post while driving. So, for example, bad traffic on North Avenue on the way to campus today. Not only is it dangerous, but we all just kind of want to scream, no one cares. But it gets worse, because some people are snapchat people. For college, I went to the Colorado School of Mines in golden, I state chemistry. I remember my sophomore year; I was taking a chemical thermodynamics class with Dr. Simmons. Dr. Simmons was fairly dry, so most people would just skip class, but I always went. I remember watching one student in particular who would come in, turn in the homework and sit down and then she'd pull out her phone and snapchat through the entire lecture. I just remember thinking how many different faces can you make in an hour? And sadly these are humorous examples, but they demonstrate a fundamental problem. Our culture pushes self-obsession the only one that really matters is me. However, as followers of Jesus, we have to ask ourselves. How are people, how are we supposed to respond? The passage we're looking at today, Luke chapter 9, verses 18 through 27, is a crucial passage in each of the synoptic Gospels. That’s Matthew, Mark and Luke, specifically in Luke's Gospel. We know that Luke has set out to write an orderly account of Jesus life and ministry for a man named Theophilus. Up to this point in the gospel we've seen, Jesus do amazing things he's miraculously healed people taught with authority, perplexed the scribes and Pharisees, and even right before this passage, he feeds 5,000 men with only a few loaves of bread and fish. But what do these things mean? And how should someone respond to these strange happenings? The offal is still needed to know why it mattered? And so we read this narrative we're looking at today. We encountered Jesus while he's praying. There are no crowds around him. He’s managed to escape the throngs of people who have been coming to receive healing and hear his teaching, and so he takes this time to spend in prayer, much-needed, intimate conversation with his father. Imagine what Jesus's time and prayer must have looked like. We know from other recorded passages that his prayer was vulnerable and tender. His burdens were lifted. He was strengthened by his father. Tender, affection and communion were exchanged. How Jesus must have needed this time of Prayer? It’s not hard to imagine the exhaustion that came with his ministry, that came with healing and teaching and having crowds constantly surrounding him, and here, he's refreshed and when he's finished with his prayer, he looks up his disciples who are around him and asks who do the crowds say that I am? Now for us, that seems like a strange question and the answer the disciples give sound even wilder. But if you were to walk down the street today and ask people who is Jesus, wouldn't you get a hodgepodge of answers? Some people would say he's just a good moral teacher, others would say he was a psychopath, they claimed to be God, others would say, he's a misogynist and finally, others would say that he truly was the Son of God. All of these answers are informed by our culture and the worldviews of our day. The same is true in first century Israel. You see the hope in first century Israel was that their God would return to them and cast off the oppression of the Gentiles. That was epitomized by Caesar and by the Roman Empire, but there were a number of opinions on how exactly this would happen. And so the first person the disciples list is that the crowds think Jesus is John, the Baptist. We know that John had been quite popular, that he had been baptizing people in the Jordan River as a baptism for their repentance or a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His goal is to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, and so it makes sense that the people seeing Jesus continuing in this vein would long for John's ministry to continue. There’s hope in its the next person we read about is Elijah. The disciples say that the crowds think Jesus is Elijah and we know that Elijah is a little bit stranger because he's a much older prophet. He's a prophet during the time of the Israeli monarchy. When Israel was a nation long before the Roman Empire had taken over and his ministry was defined by defending the worship of God against the prophets of Baal, and so, some people were hoping that Elijah would return, because we read in in second Kings that he had Just gone up to heaven a chariot of fire, so they reasoned that if he hadn't died, maybe he would come and he would be the one to prepare the way for the coming Messiah when God would set everything right. And finally, the disciples give one more kind of more generic answer that one of the prophets of old has risen, and this also makes sense in some way Jesus did the things that prophets did He taught, He healed, He called people back to God. You know it would make sense in the crowd. Seeing him do these miracles and hearing him teach with authority would assume that he fit in the vein of the prophets of the Old Testament. But all of these only give a partial picture of who Jesus is, all of them makes sense in some way and yet they're not complete, and this is where we reached the climax of this passage. Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, but who do you say that I am, and I imagine there is a pause. The disciples had just given all the safe answers and everyone's heart was pounding and no one wanted to be the first to speak up and then Peter comes forward and boldly declares. You are the Christ of God. For many of us, when we hear the word Christ, we think of it as just another name right. Jesus name is Jesus Christ. However, the word Christ is actually a title, it means Anointed One. When Peter makes this declaration, he's declaring that Jesus is the Anointed One from God. Earlier I mentioned that Israel's hope, their dream was that their God would return and be in their midst and redeem them from the oppression of the Roman Empire, and Peter recognizes that everything that he has seen, Jesus do, and everything he's heard, Jesus say, point to him being that hope: point to him being the hope of Israel and the hope of the world. The crowds don't recognize Jesus, but Peter, who spent so much time with him, who's followed him, whose seen everything. Peter does recognize him, and that makes the next sentence, in our passage all the more striking.

We read next, that he came he's 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. Now, the third day be raised. As Christians, we know this is talking about, we know that Jesus is referring to his death and resurrection, which will bring about the forgiveness of sins for all people, both Jews and Gentiles. We know that this is the hope, not only of Israel, but of the world. But, could you imagine hearing that for the first time, if you were the disciples, Jesus has just claimed the title of Messiah he's accepted it as God's anointed and yet his very next statement is that he must die. All the disciples would be shocked. Right, in their mind, this isn't how it was supposed to be. He was supposed to conquer Rome. He is supposed to right the wrongs that had been done to Israel, to God's people. He was supposed to be the one, who would throw off the oppression of the Gentiles, but Jesus tells them that he must die, and this is the first lesson for the disciples and us because Jesus is the Christ because he's the Messiah, The Anointed One, His ministry, His life and His death don't conform to expectation; rather they serve to bring the fullness of God's kingdom. They bring about the fullness of God's plan. To put it simply, Jesus is not who we expect and that's the first point in your bulletin. Jesus isn't who we expect. Jesus wasn't what the crowds expected, He wasn't, what the teachers of the law expected, He wasn't even what the disciples expected, and, if we're honest, he isn't who we expect. So what does this mean for the people who claim to follow him? We read that Jesus continues by telling his disciples if anyone would come after me. Let him deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will save it. For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits his very self. Again, we can imagine the shock that the disciples would have had when they heard that. Jesus has just told them, they must pick up an instrument of torture in order to follow him, they would have known that the cross was the the chief instrument of torture used by the Roman Empire against revolutionaries, against people who tried to fight back. Maybe they had even seen crosses with bodies hanging on them, as warnings against would-be revolutionaries, and yet Jesus is telling them that if they're to follow him, they must pick up just such an instrument of torture and lose their very lives for his sake. But the good news is that the reward is great, for by losing your life, he tells them you'll save it. But sadly he goes on and says that there's another option we can chase after the things of this world and lose our very selves. And if we're honest, we know the things of this world are, and there are things that allow us to be self-obsessed. The things that allow us to say, I'm the only one that matters, there are things like money, power, security, prestige, comforts, maybe even divisiveness, and this leads us to the second implication of this passage. Because Jesus is the Christ. The cost of following him is everything, even your very life, but the reward for following him is that you will gain life. Again, putting it simply following Jesus costs us our lives, that's the second point in the bulletin. If he is just a prophet, it wouldn't cost that much, maybe he would be worth listening to, but we know that Israel often just killed off the prophets anyway, if he was just a political revolutionary, it wouldn't cost that much, if he was just a good teacher, it certainly wouldn't cost that much. We could listen to what we liked, ignore it, what we don't like. But Jesus is so much bigger, he's the Christ, and so because Jesus doesn't meet our expectations. That is the reason, that following him costs us our lives. So you may be asking what about the life that is promised to those who give up their lives for Jesus? Many people would say that the life gained by following Jesus is eternal life, the life of new heaven and new earth. When everything will be set right by God through the person of Jesus, it's the very thing we put our hope in it's the long-term hope of all who follow Jesus. However, I can't help but point out that in the person of Jesus in his death and resurrection, God's kingdom and authority began to be manifest here on earth in history. Now we don't yet get the fullness of God's kingdom, but we do get a small taste and in the person of Jesus there's the first fruits of the fullness of the kingdom, and because of that I think it'd be wrong. It’s not recognize that we do begin experiencing this promise that Jesus gives the promise of life here and now I'd like to take the rest of our time together. To tell you how I've experienced this in my own life, I started today by telling you that our culture was self-obsessed and if I'm honest, that was me when I was in high school, I was a fairly smart kid and I knew it happen almost every subject. In school came easy to me, and I actually spent far less time on school than many of my friends and yet I knew I did categorically better than most of them. When I was five, my parents had divorced, and so I had grown up mostly with my mom. My dad was in the Air Force and lived overseas for many years and my mom and I struggled to get by financially, and I remember thinking that I didn't want that to be me once I was an adult once I was independent, I told myself I was Going to be secure, I was gonna be financially secure, and even more than that, I wanted to be wealthy. So between being a good student having a knack for chemistry and wanting to be well-off, financially, I applied to the Colorado School of Mines. I wanted to be a chemical engineer and one of the main motive factors for me was the $ 65,000 a year starting salary that they advertised and there were asurs up to this point, I'd say that my faith had been fairly nominal and had actually begun to Matter to me less and less the older I got, but a week before I went to college a week before freshman orientation started. I was getting together with a friend of mine. It was a year older. He had just just gotten back from his first year of college and he's a friend I had looked up to a friend to his parents were missionaries. He had gone on on mission trips in high school. He thought about the world so differently than I did and I looked up to him and I was talking with his friends and he informed me that he'd no longer considered himself a Christian and somehow that broke me. I remember going home and just weeping and sobbing I remember I grabbed my Kindle and opens the Bible app and just started reading random passages. I wasn't comprehending even what I was reading, but I didn't care I just needed to read, and I told myself that that wasn't going to be me and I prayed God, will you help me take my faith more seriously. I don't want to end up like my friend, but if I'm honest, my faith was still only a partial commitment. I remember the next day I was looking up campus ministries that would be a school of mines and I found one that met every other week. I said oh I'll, join that one, because I'm going to be an engineering student, I'm going to be really busy and not have enough time and so one them every other week sounded perfect my faith. My faith still didn't matter fully. There were still other priorities above it, however, maybe by the grace of God, or maybe I just got lucky the on my second day, a freshman orientation. I met inner varsity and they were doing Bible studies in the dorms and in my dorm and I agreed that I would host their Bible study. I didn't even ask my roommate. I just assumed it'd be okay with him, which luckily it was the next week. They came, they called me about 30 minutes before they are going to get there and that's when I told my roommate, I signed us up for a weekly Bible study. He wasn't interested at least he let us use the room, but so now I actually had a weekly commitment, which already wasn't what I planned. But then I got to Bible study and they asked me if I'd come to other weekly events as well. So now I had multiple events each week that I was committed to so my plan wasn't going particularly well so far, even by the second day of school, but that Bible study was so powerful. For me, it changed my life. We were going through Luke's Gospel, and I remember that this is the first time I never really looked at the life of Jesus. I had never thought critically about who he was, and this gave me the opportunity to ask questions and discuss with people my age. So I remember studying passages like the time that Jesus tells his disciples to forgive someone seventy times seven, and I just had to ask myself what would it look like for me to forgive my parents for their divorce, and the first thing I remember is well. I don't even send my dad a birthday card that will be my first step. I remember his birthday came around and I actually spelled his name wrong in the card. Yeah, it was bad, his name is daryun. He spells it with one R and I wrote quickly and put two hours in there, but in my family we never celebrated my dad's birthday because my parents had divorced, and so I didn't have that relationship with my dad. So I told myself that that was going to be my first step towards forgiveness. I remember studying the passage of the rich young ruler and having to ask myself: how should I spend my money and am I generous, and I realized I wasn't so I started giving, but still only a little all right. The financial insecurity was always there for me, and I realized that and was continued to be convicted of that and by my senior year I decided I give 25 % of everything that came into my bank account just to practice the discipline of generosity, and it seems Even stranger now because I work for a ministry in which I have to fundraise all of my salary, there's no way that I'm financially independent. So there's that and finally I remember coming to this passage and asking Jesus. What would it look like for me to deny myself? Will you show that to me that was a scary prayer. That meant a lot of things, a lot of things I didn't understand at the time. The answers would actually come gradually over the course of my college career. A few months after I prayed that I was offered to go on a missions trip to the Navajo reservation in Gallup, New Mexico with inner versity, and I had planned on taking organic chemistry over the summer. Because I was a nerd and I thought that would be fun and I liked chemistry so yeah, but then then this opportunity, a missions trip, came up. I remember calling my mom and telling her that I got this opportunity and naturally she has to be like well weren't. So, like a week ago, you're telling me you're gonna take you know organic chemistry classes over the summer. I just remember telling her that I think if I'm going to truly follow Jesus, I need to not do organic chemistry. I need to go on this mission strip to the Navajo Reservation. My I was like. Oh okay, sure she had a lot of reservations about that, but I was okay. That’s what I told her, though, and I got really lucky cuz, that's actually where I met my wife Lydia and the next school year denying myself was beginning to lead one of those Bible studies in the dorms, and I was a terrible Bible study leader, which is Funny because now it's my job, I remember the very first Bible study I led one. Half of the group had one interpretation of the passage and the other half of the group had a completely different interpretation of the passage, and I had no idea what to do so. I just said: yeah you both sound right, like that's great and like kind of moved on. Needless to say that that doesn't make for a particularly great Bible study when they have different interpretations. But I got some coaching and some practice and got better. And finally, my sophomore year I had an internship in in chemistry, I'd search, my major chemistry at that point, because I, like science, better than engineering, but my job was to take water quality samples. And so I take the sample that I was given put in a test, tube walk it over to an instrument, and I would tell the instrument what what chemical I was looking for, what tests I wanted to run and then, when the instrument was done, I would You know print out the results, you know and repeat the process, and I realized this was the path to everything that I thought I had wanted. The job would have paid. Well, if I got it once I graduated, I would have success or security. I would be using my degree, but I realized that I didn't bring me life. I found it to be really boring in fact, and so I asked Jesus what does it look like for me to gain the life that you promised? Those who follow you, and by the time I graduated college, I was being asked by university to come on staff with them, and so recently denying myself has looked like coming to Grand Junction, which I never would have said. I wanted to live of all places and working with Latino students on campus. I have to cross cultures every time I step on campus. I don't even speak Spanish that well most of the time they speak English, just for my sake, sometimes this life. I have feels like it's a lifetime away from what I hoped and longed for in college, and yet the life I have in following Jesus is worth it's. The life I have in helping college students follow. Jesus is worth it it's worth giving up my college degree. So we're giving up all the money that came with that degree it's worth moving to Grand Junction, even though I do really like it here now that I'm here it's worth having to cross cultures every time I step on campus to help lead a Latino student Bible Study and it's worth it because I can join with Peter saying Jesus - you are the Christ of God. To conclude today, I'd like to ask you: what does it look like for you to continue to deny yourself so that you can fully follow Jesus? I recognize that some of you may be longtime followers of Jesus, and my encouragement to you is not to give up. Please continue to take up your cross daily and give your very life for Jesus. Some of you may not know what you think about Jesus and you're still exploring Christianity, and my encouragement to you is continue to explore. If Jesus statements are true, then to lose your life and following him is worth everything that's important. You take him seriously and decide what you actually think.