Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
~ Matthew 16:13 - 20
I always seem to enjoy the "A ha Moments" in the Bible. Those are the times when someone discovers the bigger picture and suddenly their life is changed forever. When Jesus gets to have some one on one time with the disciples and then begins to review the things of the day, then there is a whole new level of discussions that take place. Sometimes I wonder how the disciples slept at all. Really? All the people approaching them during the day, and then when they finally settle in for the evening, then there are more moments.
For the Hebrew people, the appearance of the Messiah was something that they had waited many years to appear. While they often thought the Messiah would come through common methods, the immaculate birth, a star in the heavens, and then this man Jesus and his disciples really must have been amazing for those living at the time.
One evening after a long day, one of the Disciples is asked, "Who do you say that I am?"
I think in a way we have all been there. You are with a group of friends and you begin to talk about life, and the topic moves to those outside of the group. It's like asking, "So what do you think of Jane?"
"People say she is a nice girl."
"I heard she is really smart and outgoing."
And then your friends look you in the eyes and ask, "What do YOU think of her?"
That's pretty much what Jesus does in this moment when he asks the question, "Who do you say that I am?"
The response, "Some say..."
"Who do YOU think that I am?"
A disciple responds, "You are the Messiah."
All at once the reality is out in the open air, and I'm sure that there were others already thinking that, but NOW someone has said it out loud!
Jesus looks, and suddenly, this disciple has a new name, "Peter." Not only that, he is commended for listening to the Spirit of God speaking to his heart and told, "You shall be the rock that my church is built upon."
I can't even begin to know what that feeling must have been like in that moment, but I think we all understand what that meant in that moment. The real identity of Jesus was realized. Jesus IS the Messiah. The Son of God.
For each of us living today, there is still that opportunity to identify Jesus as the Messiah. It is just as important today as it was for the disciples all those years ago, and when we do, suddenly there is the reality that there is now something real within us. While Peter may have been the rock, we are the living instruments of Jesus in the world today.
Now that is something to talk about!
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.