Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Who is Jesus?

Jesus asking Peter who He is - Matthew 16
Jesus asking Peter who He is - Matt. 16
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 16:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.' " Matthew 16:16

Peter's confession of who Jesus was is classic in its simplicity, directness, and boldness. Author Matthew relates it in the chapter that follows Jesus'  feeding of four thousand (Matthew 15:32-39) and another sparring match between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:1-4). When Jesus and His disciples were alone again, Jesus warned them, " 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees' …" (Matthew 16:6).

The disciples puzzled over what He meant. Was He referring to the fact that on this particular day they'd forgotten to pack bread for lunch?

I can just see Jesus giving a bit of an eye roll and saying (in my words), "You've just seen me feed crowds of people. I can take care of you in the physical bread department. It's the leaven of bad doctrine I'm talking about" (Matthew 16:8-11).

What was the bad doctrine? Legalism and strict adherence to tradition by the Pharisees, and materialism and refusal to acknowledge the supernatural by the Sadducees (J. Lyle Story, Study notes on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1320).

Peter's answer to Jesus' question: "'Who do men say that I am?'" would have scandalized both parties.  When he said, "'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'" he acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah (Christ) that every Israelite was longing for, and as supernatural i.e. God (Son of the Living God).

I can just imagine Jesus' smile of congratulations. Yes, Peter, you got it!

Jesus then said two more important things to Peter:
1. God showed you this (Matthew 16:17).
2. Your realization comes with a responsibility and mission (Matthew 16:18,19).

Our relationship with Jesus starts in the same way as Peter's, by acknowledging Jesus for who He is—the fulfillment of the world's need of a Messiah and Savior from our sin. After we've found Him, there's no more need to go seeking after someone else to follow, to pattern our lives on, to do life with.

Like Peter, for us this "aha" moment is also engineered by God and communicated in ways as various as we are individuals.

After we've recognized Jesus and crowned Him king of our hearts and lives, we too have a responsibility. We're partners with Peter and every other believer across the ages in building Jesus' church and doing the "binding and loosing" work of His Kingdom.

What a heritage! What a responsibility!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please help me to recognize and acknowledge Your presence in my everyday life. Help me to give my life to Kingdom work. Amen.

MORE: Confession of St. Peter

Today the church celebrates Peter's confession in the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter. The day's liturgy begins with this Collect:

Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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