“As Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him”


Infant Jesus and John the Baptist, Museo del Prado

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 Friday (September 23): Scripture:  Luke 9:18-22

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Eli’jah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” 20 And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 But he 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.”

Meditation: Who is Jesus for you? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke, professed that Jesus was truly the Christ of God. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God.  Through the eyes of faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to publicly recognize Jesus as the Anointed One whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world as Lord and Savior (Luke 2:11, Acts 2:36). Christ is the Greek word for Messiah, the Hebrew word which is also translated as the Anointed One.

Why did Jesus command his disciples to be silent about his identity as the anointed Son of God? They were, afterall, appointed to proclaim the good news to everyone. Jesus knew that they did not yet fully understand his mission and how he would accomplish it. Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th century chuch father, explains the reason for this silence:

There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father. He utterly abolished death and wiped out destruction. He robbed hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy. He took away the sin of the world, opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven. These things proved him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. [Commentary on Luke, Homily 49]

Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God’s work of redemption might be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard this word. How different are God’s thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). Through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and from the oppression of our enemy, Satan, the father of lies and the deceiver of humankind.

If we want to share in Christ’s victory, then we must also take up our cross and follow him where he leads us. What is the “cross” that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses with God’s will, then his will must be done. To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strenth we need to live as sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is?

“Lord Jesus, I believe and I profess that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Take my life, my will, and all that I have, that I may be wholly yours now and forever.”

Psalm 144:1-4

1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under him.
3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow.

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