Today”s Gospel is taken from Matthew 16. It”s the famous account of Peter”s confession of faith and Jesus” response. Over the next few posts, we will gradually unpack this rich passage.
Today, let”s consider this: Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” People seem to be saying different things. But then He makes it very personal. He says, “But you, Peter, who do YOU say that I am?” That question goes out to all of us.
Peter”s response comes in verse 16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This concise answer recognizes (a) Jesus’ divinity, as well as (b) His status as the Messiah-King of Israel.
This answer gets an A plus. (I have to admit that saying this conjures up thoughts of Ralphie’2012-04-24 18:35:27′s bb gun essay in The Christmas Story, but I digress.)
In this scene, Peter became the first person in Matthew’s Gospel to explicitly recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Then Jesus gives Him the beautiful blessing of verses 17-19:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
But what does this blessing mean? At first blush, this doesn’t seem to be about putting Peter and his successors in charge. We need to go a little deeper.
In our next installment, we will examine the significance of Peter”s new name.