The Messiah’s Sonship Mission
After Luke establishes Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, he then focuses upon the Messiah’s mission. Luke 9:20-22 says,
20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 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 be raised up on the third day.”
This is the first time that Jesus revealed to the disciples that He was soon to die at the hands of “the elders and chief priests and scribes.” These were the ones called to make sacrifices under the Old Covenant, and since Jesus was the Lamb of God, He had to be sacrificed on the cross at the hands of those who were called for that purpose.
Needless to say, many try to blame the Romans for this, but if the Romans did it, then prophecy has failed. But I do not believe the Romans had the calling to perform this great Sacrifice of history, although it was done while the iron kingdom carried the Dominion Mandate.
The Path to Sonship leads to the Cross
Matthew too records that Jesus revealed His death and resurrection to the disciples immediately after Peter’s great confession of faith: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Matt. 16:21 says,
21 From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Peter rebuked Jesus at first, but Jesus responded sternly in verse 23,
23 … “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
This being a new revelation, Peter did not yet understand that the purpose of the Messiah was to die and be raised from the dead. He was unaware that the law had prophesied two comings of Christ. He was a product of his culture and religion which saw only one arrival of the Messiah in glory, who would overthrow Rome and set up His Kingdom. Virtually no one yet understood all the prophecies that said the Messiah would have to die.
Peter did not understand that the path to glory went through the cross. The “Sons of God” Club in Gen. 6:2 had already attempted to bypass the cross and to fulfill the prophecy the easy way. But that was a counterfeit, because it did not deal with the sin problem. They attempted to achieve Sonship (son of man and son of God through interbreeding) without going through the lawful procedure stated in the divine law.
Peter’s ignorant outburst put him on the same path as the original counterfeit sonship program, and this is what made him a “satan,” or an adversary of Christ. Jesus corrected Peter by appealing to “God’s interests.” This is what I said earlier about establishing God’s right to rule the nations by His laws on the grounds that He owns what He has created. When we, as Kingdom believers, focus upon establishing God’s rights, then we are truly setting our minds on God’s interests.
The Gates of Hell
Matt. 16:13 tells us that Peter’s confession came at Caesarea Philippi, where the Grotto of Pan (now called Paneas, or Banias) was located. The Jews called this Grotto “the gates of hell.” Caesarea Philippi was originally called Dan and was the site of a golden calf. Here is where Jesus took His disciples, for it was at the base of Mount Hermon, where Jesus was then transfigured in Matt. 17:1, 2.
Why was it important to learn Jesus’ identity at the site of “the gates of hell?” Part of the reason is because the Pan was said to be a faun, or satyr—a creature that was pictured as half goat and half man. Lev. 16:8 calls him Azazel, “goat god.” (Many translations render this as “scapegoat.”) This is the passage that gives instructions about what to do on the Day of Atonement. Lev. 16:8 says,
8 And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Yahweh, and the other lot for Azazel.
The first goat was killed, and its blood was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat “for Yahweh.” The second goat was led into the wilderness “for Azazel.” Hence, when Jesus fulfilled the law, He was baptized on the Day of Atonement “for Yahweh,” and then He was led into the wilderness “for Azazel,” that is, to be “tempted of the devil” (Luke 4:2).
These two goats on the Day of Atonement represent the two manifestations of Christ in His first and second work. The first goat was called to die; the second was called to live and to overcome the devil. Hence, the calling of both goats were pictured in the present story. Jesus first revealed to the disciples that He was called to die at the hands of the elders and priests. Then He went up Mount Hermon to be transfigured, which depicts the manifestation of the Sons of God at His second coming.
Azazel (Pan) is also the counterfeit of the Sons of God, the spirit by which the “Sons of God” club in Gen. 6:2 came down on Mount Hermon in the attempt to fulfill the Sonship prophecy. Hence, Pan was pictured as half goat and half man to denote the two natures of the Sons of God, for their genetics were from two realms, producing giants, or Nephilim.
The true Son of God, too, had a heavenly Father and an earthly mother, but He was born in a lawful manner, rather than by a carnal attempt to fulfill prophecy. Likewise, the Sons of God will be manifested at the Feast of Tabernacles, when Christ in them is brought to full birth. The Sons of God, like Jesus Himself, have a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.
The point is that Jesus took His disciples to the Grotto of Pan and to the heart of Israel’s ancient problem of the golden calf in order to reveal to them His true identity as Son of God and Son of Man. His disciples still had little understanding of this, and Peter wanted to defend Jesus from dying at the hands of the elders and priests. But His willingness to do the death work of the Messiah is what would qualify Him to reap the rewards of the second work.
The counterfeit “Sons of God” movement in Gen. 6:2 wanted to achieve Sonship but bypassed the first work. Hence, they only produced giants that needed to be eradicated by the Israelites, first under Moses and later under David. A fuller account of this may be studied in Deuteronomy, The Second Law, Speech 1, chapter 12.
The Cross is for Every Son
After Jesus revealed to the disciples that He would have to “be killed and be raised up on the third day,” He then presented a choice to them in Luke 9:23, 24,
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
The path to Sonship, then, is the same path that Jesus took. Being killed by the elders and priests is not necessary, but we certainly must identify with Jesus in His first work in order to qualify as Sons of God in His second work. The Apostle Paul received much revelation on this subject and wrote of it in Romans 6:5.
Getting back to Luke 9:22, where Jesus revealed that He must “suffer” and “be rejected,” the Greek word translated “suffer” is pascho, which means “to undergo, to feel, to have a sensible experience.” It is an experience of God’s passion, for no one would be willing to undergo such an experience apart from the passion of God in their hearts.
Perhaps Luke was also using this word because of its similarity to pascha, “Passover.” In other words, Jesus would pascho at pascha, “suffer at Passover.” Luke was laying foundations for His account of the suffering of Christ at the cross.
Seeing the Kingdom of God
Luke 9:25-27 continues,
25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and 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 say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.
The counterfeit “Sons of God” movement in Gen. 6:2 was an attempt to gain the whole world by claiming to fulfill the Sonship prophecies. They thought they could fulfill Tabernacles while bypassing Passover. But our Passover experience is what links us to the Messiah by identifying with His death. We thus become joint-heirs with Christ, for we are His Body.
Those who bypass the first work of Christ are, in Hebrew thinking, “ashamed” of Christ. The Hebrew word buwsh means “to fail in hope and expectation.” Those who fail to identify with the Messiah in His death will also fail to become Sons of God though the feast of Tabernacles, “when He comes in His glory” and with “the holy angels.” These “holy angels” are thus contrasted to the Nephilim, which means “fallen ones.” The word comes from naphal, “to fall.”
Luke 9:27 has also puzzled many for a long time. Jesus says that “some of those standing here” will not die before seeing the Kingdom of God. Luke wrote this account decades after Jesus spoke those words, when most (if not all) of those disciples were already dead. Only John remained alive. So how did Luke understand this statement?
First, Jesus did not say that these would live until the second coming of Christ. He said they would live to “see the kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God comes not all at once, but in phases. The Age of Pentecost was a manifestation of the Kingdom of Saul, which was the next stage of development after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.
Yet because Jesus had already spoken on a spiritual level earlier in verses 23, 24, it is likely that He was still speaking spiritually in verse 27. Hence, the disciples were to follow the lawful path toward Sonship, first by identifying with His death (Passover experience) then by identifying with Him in His resurrection (Wave-sheaf offering). Then they could be “crowned” on Pentecost, even as Saul was crowned on that same day many years earlier.
The original day of Pentecost occurred when God organized Israel into a Kingdom at Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments. Saul’s coronation also turned Israel into a Kingdom at Pentecost in 1 Sam. 12:17. A third manifestation of this Kingdom occurred in Acts 2:1, when the Spirit crowned the 120 disciples in the upper room. So the day of Pentecost was when those disciples saw the Kingdom. Even so, there is yet a greater Kingdom that is to be established through the feast of Tabernacles, which answers to the Kingdom of David.