Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 9:20-21 The Christ of God

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

20 “But you?” he asked. “Who do you say that I am?”
    Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

What is the Messiah? First, let’s remember that “Messiah” (which is Hebrew) and “Christ” (which is Greek) both mean “the Anointed One.” David prophesied his coming in Psalm 2: “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One” (Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:25). Psalm 89 also shows the Anointed Christ, punished by God for the sins of mankind (Psalm 89:38) and mocked at every step of his ministry, trial, and crucifixion by the enemies of God’s people (Psalm 89:50-51). Other references to an “anointed one” in the Psalms point especially to the anointed king of Israel, often David himself (Psalm 28:8, 84:9, 132:10,17) but not necessarily to Christ.

In Daniel, the Anointed One, the Messiah, is prophesied to come more than 400 years (62 or 63 groups of seven years) after the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He is called “the Anointed One, the ruler” (Daniel 9:25). Also, his work for mankind is described this way: “The Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood. We will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed” (Daniel 9:26). Daniel set prophecies about the first coming of Jesus alongside those of the second coming of Jesus, but we understand his meaning. The Messiah is the chosen ruler from God, the Son of God, who would come into the world to rescue the world from sin through the sacrificial slaughter of his very own flesh. This was the office and the work of Jesus Christ.

21 Then he warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone.

Does “this” point backwards, to Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, or does it point forwards, to Jesus’ prophecy about his crucifixion, coming up in the next verse? The Greek word, touto (τοῦτο), points to something close by, usually pointing backwards to something already mentioned (1 Corinthians 11:10) but it can sometimes point forwards (1 Corinthians 11:17). Here, “this” is in the predicate of the sentence, and by the rules of Greek grammar (to which Luke is particularly attuned) “this” points back to what Peter just said.

Since we have established that this is what Jesus’ warning is about, we can ask: Why did Jesus warn people not to proclaim that he was the Messiah? John had all but done so from Jesus’ very first day of ministry, when he was baptized (“Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29). I agree with other pastors (such as Jerome Albrecht) who think that there were two reasons for this.

First, as Jesus just demonstrated with his question (“Who do the crowds say that I am?”), the people weren’t ready to hear this, since they had too many wrong ideas about who the Messiah would be. John relates a long account after the Feeding of the 5,000 in which the people tried to make Jesus king by force (John 6:15)!

Second, the disciples themselves were still not ready to carry the message to everyone in the world. They had been sent out into Galilee and Judea, where there were many people already who had heard about the coming of Jesus and had been baptized by John (Mark 1:28; John 3:23). But it would not be until after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that they would be fully prepared with the whole knowledge of what Jesus came to do and what he fulfilled for all mankind.

Perhaps there was a third reason, too, but we will save that for the next verse, when it will appear in the context. For now, praise your Savior Jesus Christ, who came to rescue you from your sins. He is the promised Holy One of God; the Lamb who is pronounced worthy by God and by all the hosts of heaven (Revelation 5:12). Give him honor, glory, and praise with your whole life. Thank him with what you say and do, and even with what you think about.

But the ban, “Don’t tell anyone,” is long lifted. Tell everyone you know: Jesus is risen from the dead! He is risen, indeed!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

Browse Devotion Archive