Identifying Jesus and His Disciples
In our world today, identity is very important. People want to identify themselves in various ways and they want others to identify them accurately. And there’s a lot of confusion regarding identity. Some who are clearly in one category want to identify themselves as being within a different category. We hear about identity theft, identity politics, and identity disorders.
We’ve been studying the book of Luke, and one of the author’s main concerns is identifying Jesus. When Jesus stilled the stormy sea, the disciples had asked, “Who can this be?” (8:25). Herod, in 9:9, had asked, “Who is this, of whom I hear such things?” In today’s passage, Jesus himself initiates a discussion regarding his identity.
Jesus is a mere 6 months away from his death and resurrection. He’s just fed the 5000, and he will experience the Transfiguration right after this. His disciples had been with him for almost 3 years at this point, so you would think that they’d have a fairly good understanding of who Jesus is. Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ of God” shows that the disciples had come to understand at least some basic things about Jesus. The crowds of people still don’t understand much about Jesus, but at least his disciples understood this truth.
Most of the material in this passage deals with identification. The first part identifies Jesus’ person and work—he’s the Christ of God who will suffer, die, and rise again. The second part identifies Jesus’ disciples, those who come and follow him.
In this passage, Jesus is speaking to his 12 disciples and to others who happened to be there. And the account is for us as well. We must understand who Jesus is, we must understand his work, and we must decide if we are willing to follow Jesus as his disciples. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus if you fail to identify him correctly and if you fail to understand his work.
All of us should consider whether we are identifying Christ accurately and if we are genuinely his disciples.