Matthew 16:13-20 (NRSV)
Verse 13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Verse 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Verse 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Verse 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Verse 17And 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. Verse 18And 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. Verse 19I 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." Verse 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Jesus puts the disciples on the spot: “Who do you say that I am?” It’s easier for them to share what other people are saying. Some are saying that Jesus is the reincarnated John the Baptist. Some are saying Jesus is like the great prophets whose miracles Jesus imitate. If we need to, we can supply plenty of biblical resources to back-up our own answers.
Jesus here is not interested in a biblical research paper. Jesus wants to know about your heart; who do you say that he is. Jesus wants to know what you believe. Jesus wants to hear the workings of the Spirit in you proclaimed vocally. Dear, enthusiastic Peter, boldly proclaims his growing faith, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
A part of our growing faith formation, is our growing awareness and deepening understanding of who God is and what that means for us, for our faith community, and for the world. Peter is learning and sharing that faith aloud—and inviting us to join him.
Holy Spirit, continue the work that has begun in us as we learn to love and trust you. Help us to believe and boldly proclaim that “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Amen.