The Confession of Peter

Today's Bible reading: Matthew 16:13-23

Jesus’ preaching and miracles made a deep impression on people, and they were forced to decide whether they were for Him … or against Him.  They had to answer the question: “What do you think of Christ?”  Halfway through the Gospel of Matthew we find this key question.  Jesus asks His disciples: “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”   This is the single-most, vital and important question in the entire New Testament: “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”   While Jesus’ enemies called Him a blasphemer - meaning one in league with Satan himself - many people were glad to hear Him as a great teacher, even a great prophet.  There are many people today who are very satisfied with this answer.  Jews and Muslims, for example, are quite happy to recognize Jesus as a great prophet.  But - as the Holy Spirit has revealed to us - He is so much more than that!

In answering this most important question - “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”  - the disciples begin by giving popular answers.  Jesus is John the Baptist come back to life – that’s what King Herod thought.  Others thought He might be the new Elijah or the new Moses expected to prepare the way for the Messiah.  It is bold Peter who finally confesses the truth about Jesus Christ, and gives us the right answer: “YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.”   That - like every confession of Jesus in the New Testament - is not a brilliant flash of human insight … but a truth given by God.  There’s only one Church: one where Christ is confessed – He is the “chief cornerstone.”   Peter and the other apostles who witness to Him are to be the foundation of the Church, which Satan will not be able to destroy, no matter how hard he tries – a fact that we evidence as true right here and now.

Immediately after Peter gives this correct answer … this great confession - because, in all honesty, He really didn’t quite understand what he was confessing at the time - Jesus leads His disciples to a deeper understanding of what His Messiahship and Sonship means.  It means following a path to glory, but only through the cross.  Once Peter starts to get a better understanding of what his confession actually meant, He reacts in much the same way each of us would react, and expresses the natural human distaste at such an idea.  Yet Jesus knows that any attempt to block His way to the cross is the work of Satan.  He must go the way of the cross, because that is the will of the Father for youfor me and for our salvation.

Prayer: Grant us grace, heavenly Father, to confess Jesus and so remain on the unshakeable rock of our salvation.  Amen.