Luke 9:18-27 (ESV)
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 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.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were alone with Jesus. They had traveled a great distance, met many people, healed the sick, cast out demons, and taught about God and his kingdom. Now, what were the crowds saying about Jesus? The disciples must have heard something, and so Jesus asked them. Some said Jesus was John the Baptist. They believed that after Herod had John beheaded, his spirit continued on through Jesus. It seemed like the preaching of Jesus and John were the same, with a call to repent. Some said Jesus was Elijah. The prophet Malachi said Elijah would be sent before the Day of the Lord. And others said he was a different prophet who had returned to speak to their generation. In all three cases, the crowds recognized that the message Jesus taught was from God, but they didn’t grasp who he actually was. Jesus then asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered with four simple but profound and powerful words: “The Christ of God.” “The Christ” is the Greek way of saying the Messiah or the Anointed One. Jesus was the expected and anticipated deliverer of Israel, the Promised One who was to come and save the people. But the disciples didn’t realize how the ministry of the Messiah would play out. First, Jesus would suffer. Then, at a later time, his reign as King would come. Jesus let the disciples know that just as he would be rejected and suffer, those who follow him will be rejected and suffer as well (vv. 23-25).
Jesus let his disciples know that neither his path no theirs would be easy. Following Jesus requires the ability to let go of the things of this world that keep the soul from obedience to Christ. Jesus called this “self-denial,” or “taking up the cross daily,” or the willingness to “lose one’s life,” and lack of shame in him. And yet, when we get to the end, all the rejection and suffering that accompanies following Jesus will be worth it. Though we will never be truly accepted by the world, Almighty God accepts us. If you are tired or disheartened today, take courage! Jesus will take his rightful place as King, and we will be with him. It has been rightfully said that if you are a Christian, you have royal blood in your veins.