A friend and I were driving to a coffee shop when he said, “The thing that baffles me most about Jesus is when he says something like ‘I am the only way,’” “You mean the part of the Bible,” I said, “where Jesus tells his disciples, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.'” “That's it,” he told me, “it just sounds so arrogant!”
InterVarsity put out a Christmas card once. It had pictures of various world-renowned leaders on the front like Hitler, Ghengis Khan, Lenin, Buddha and others. It said, “History is full of men who would be gods….” On the inside there was a simple nativity picture with the words, “…but only one God who would be man.”
If Jesus was not God incarnate, then he was the most arrogant person who ever lived. We have no other box to put him in. It is a point that has confounded and perplexed people for 2000 years. How much easier it would be to come to a great moral teacher than to the only Son of the only God. His authority to forgive sins, his unequaled power to give orders to powers of darkness and the bizarre occurrences around this God-man dumbfounded his disciples. When Matthew writes about Peter's confession that Jesus is Messiah, he tells us that Jesus said, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven." Ask the Father to give you a more complete understanding of Jesus the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, as you read the next passage in Luke.
Read Luke 9:28-36
- Jesus is going on a 24 hour, private prayer retreat with Peter, James and John. How would you feel if you were one of the disciples on this camping trip with Jesus?
- Imagine you are eyewitnesses to this Star Trek-like event. You've heard all the theories on who this man is. Before Peter's confession you may have even discussed the possibility that he is actually Elijah or Moses. Write down a few emotions that you think you might be plagued by as you try to sleep that night.
- The voice of God that came out of the terrifying cloud said that this man was his Son and urged you to “listen to him.” Jesus was just talking with Elijah and Moses about his “exodus” (as the Greek puts it). Now ‘listen’ to Jesus again out of his words in the passage just previous to this. Imagine he is looking right into your eyes and speaking to you personally. Jot down anything you think Jesus might be saying through those words about specific things in your life. Reply to him in prayer.
Read Luke 9:37-45
- As you come down from a strange, frightening and wonderful mountaintop experience with Jesus a large crowd meets you. One man's shouts can be heard above the rest. What do you notice about this man, his son and the plea he makes?
- Have you ever encountered demons? If so, how did your experience compare with this one?
- Looking at the severity of this demonic situation, what can you guess about why Jesus is frustrated?
- The crowds have been watching Jesus' disciples attempting to cast this demon out, perhaps for some time. Jesus arrives and there is a major power encounter in which Jesus wins. As the crowd is still picking their jaws off the ground what does Jesus say? How would this have sounded?
- Where are you on a scale of 1-10 in the area of faith-filled, authoritative prayer for intense situations? What are some places of darkness in the city to which you are traveling? What are some places of darkness in your own life?
Pray that as God gives you eyes to see Jesus more clearly, ask him to take you up a notch in believing he can bring the kingdom of God to earth through your prayers.
More studies in the series
- Letting Go
- Transformation to Serve
- The Struggle of Association
- The Full Picture
- Greatness of God
- Lambs Among Wolves
Adapted from "Orientation Bible Studies," by Scott Bessenecker, Director, Global Urban Trek, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 2001.