The Way Up is Down l Luke 9:18-27 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
As I’m sure you read yesterday in his blog, Pastor Mark is at home recovering from Bell’s Palsy. I spoke to him, and he sends his warmest greetings to us all. He is in good spirits and looks forward to being back with us all soon. If you didn’t get a chance to read the blog, which contains more details about his circumstances, there is a link to it in the guide, and a link to subscribe to our Saturday email in which the blog is contained. Right now, Pastor Mark doesn’t need any practical help, but he would love your prayers, and if you wanted to write him a card, you can mail it to the church, or drop it off at the front desk, and we will get those to him. But before we dive into today’s message, I’d love to pray for Pastor Mark. Would you join me?
Good morning and welcome to Chapel Hill, whether you are here in person, or online. My name is Ellis and over the next 25 minutes I’m going to share a message with you that I hope reframes the paradigm with which you are living, so that you might experience the fullness of life that Jesus has on offer.
Recently my in-laws were here and one of my son’s favorite things to do is to get them playing video games with him. He convinces his grandad to play with him, and, honestly, I think his grandad kind of likes it. But an interesting thing happens when someone who isn’t familiar with playing video games gets hold of a video game, and it occurs when you end up in a type of game where you control a flying vehicle—maybe a plane or a spaceship or in Mario Kart when you go off a blue jump and your kart suddenly turns into a glider. Intuitively, when you are flying like this and you want to go up, you push the control stick upwards, but what ends up happening is that your glider goes down. Instead, if you want to go up, you actually have to push down on the control stick, and vice versa. If you want to go down, you push up. And if you’re not quite getting it, take a look at this short video.
The way up is down. And in the passage of Scripture that we are going to be looking at today, we’re going to find that the same is true in Jesus’ life, and the same is true in our lives. If we want to go up, we have to push ourselves down.
We’re continuing our journey through Luke’s gospel—one of the four biographical accounts of Jesus’ life that are contained in the Bible. We’re about one third of the way through, and we have seen Jesus do incredible things. He’s healed the sick, calmed the storm, cast out demons, and raised the dead. And the question that has been on many people’s lips has been: who is this Jesus?
Three times we’ve heard this question asked. The Pharisees asked it back in chapter 5, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies?” Luke 5:21b, followed by those at a dinner party in chapter 7 said, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” in Luke 7:49b, and the disciples were even asking it after Jesus calmed the storm, saying, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and water, and they obey him?” in Luke 8:25b. Everyone is asking: who is Jesus?
And Jesus decides to flip the script on his disciples—the men and women he had called to follow him—by asking them the question that is on everyone’s lips. Here’s how Luke records that moment in chapter 9, starting in verse 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?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’” Luke 9:18–20
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Several years ago, my mother began a job as a PE teacher at a very well-to-do private English girls’ school. Upper class; very prim and proper. She had been teaching there for 3 months when it was time for the staff Christmas party. The party was taking place in the home of the headmistress (the principal as you Americans would refer to her). At one point in the evening, my mother got into a conversation with two other teachers, one of whom she knew, but the other she had never met before. It became apparent that this other teacher knew who she was, and it was becoming increasingly awkward for my mother. So much so, that she decided to take matters into her own hands. She reached out a hand to the teacher she didn’t know, and said, “I’m really sorry. I don’t know who you are. My name is Ann White, and I’m the new PE teacher.” The woman responded, in the poshest English accent, “Pauline Davies, Headmistress.”