Today we celebrate the Confession of St. Peter, declaring the Jesus as the Christ.
The story of Peter confessing Jesus as the Christ is found in Matthew 16:13-20. In this passage Jesus asks the disciples who people say that he is. They answer that some people say he is John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter was the first to answer saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus tells him that flesh and blood has not revealed this to him, but God has. He goes on to give Peter his new name of Peter, saying, “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus continues, “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.” Then he tells them not to tell people that he is the Christ. This is a really interesting and important bit of Matthew and I have thought a lot about many of the verses in this passage, but Saint Friday is not the place for dealing with it.
Instead I want to focus on the declaration of Peter about who Jesus is. To do so I am going to put it the way N.T. Wright said it (because he says things a lot better than I do). He puts this passage into a modern context, saying, imagine Jesus was a political figure in the United States. He asks the disciples, his support staff and friends, who do people say that I am or could be. They answer that people think he is a good man, a good politician, maybe a senator or congressman. Then Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Then Peter responds, “I/we think you could be/are president!” So it gets to the importance of the matter, being a prophet or John the Baptist or Elijah are important and really good, but being the Christ is a lot different and a lot more important.
There is always a “but” though and I am not going to disappoint, but there is a little bit of a disconnect here. I mean maybe if we were comparing Jesus to George Washington or some president that we have yet, who starts putting everything to right. The main “but” issue is that messiahs were not that uncommon in the first century Judaism. A lot of people were claiming to be the Christ and then they got killed and no one claimed they were the Christ anymore. This also explains why the disciples, especially Peter, take it so hard when Jesus says that he is going to Jerusalem to be killed, because then he would just be another failed messiah and the time the disciples spent following him around would pretty much be wasted (not really because even if he was not the messiah they still learned a lot of important stuff and got to experience God working in a lot of ways).
So the important thing here is the confession of Peter. He confesses states what he believes about Jesus and we Christians make the same statement every day, declaring with our actions and faith that we believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the One who will put everything to right, the redeemer of the world, and the one is, who was, and who is to come again.
Question: When did you make your confession about who Jesus is? What led you to that confession?