In Matthew’s gospel Jesus begins questioning the disciples, asking them who people think he is. They give him various answers, some may have been their own and some may have been what they heard in people's conversations as they mingled with the crowds.
He listened to their responses and then he posed the toughie, “Who do you say that I am?” As the rest pondered the question Simon said, “You're the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
To his answer Jesus tells Simon, son of John, that he is the “Rock” and this is the rock he'll build his church on. This impulsive, hard-headed, “willfully stupid” man is going to be used as the foundation for the Body of Christ here on earth.
But, not long after this Jesus calls him Satan and tells him he is thinking as the world thinks and not on God’s things. And then, later, Peter denies that he knows Jesus, three times.
What does Jesus see in him that we don't? Is it because Simon, now Peter, answered first, and answered correctly?
Jin S. Kim in Feasting on the Word said ...it wasn't Peter's strength or righteousness but rather it was his testimony that Jesus was responding to. Peter's words came from everything he had observed and experienced as he spent time with Jesus. It was his witness that Jesus was rewarding.
So, who do you say that Jesus is? How do you bear witness to the Messiah? That’s a question all of us should think about. When someone asks us who Jesus is how will we answer? Or maybe they won’t ask, they’ll just watch to see how we live and watch how we deal with pain and suffering in our lives.
Are we able to answer like Peter and say, Jesus is “… the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God,”? You know we’re probably not much different than Peter. One day we’re able proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah and the next we deny we ever knew him. And the next day Jesus is speaking to us saying, “…get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”
You know what might be interesting? Ask folks we meet on the street who Jesus is, to them. It might surprise us to hear some of the responses. We really shouldn’t be since the disciples gave answers like John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Nobody in Jesus’ day really understood who he was.
And he didn’t want his disciples telling people he was the Messiah yet. It wasn’t the right time. But, friends, the time is right for us now.
When people ask us who Jesus is that’s a sign the time is just right for giving our testimony about who Jesus is to us. If we’re not sure how we’d answer then maybe we should go to the Word and pray for the Spirit to open our hearts to discover who this Messiah, Jesus, is to us.
Roddy Hamilton has thought about this and put this poem together to help us. It goes like this…
water walker and bread breaker
baptiser and companion
stranger and forsaken
troublemaker and revolutionary
resurrection and conspiracy of love
light in darkness and breaker of silence
friend of sinners and tax collectors
friend of children and disturber of adults
friend of the outcast and agitator of empire
how do you know Jesus?
So, maybe this helps us. This week as you spend time with God invite his Spirit to lead you to those words that you can use to describe Jesus to those you meet on your Journey.
Thanks be to God for his Grace. Amen.