As we continue through Matthew’s account of the Gospel, we see at 16:13-20 that Jesus has taken the Disciples away from their home-ground and travelled to Caesarea Philippi, about 25 miles north-east of the Sea of Galilee.
Here, Jesus asked His disciples the question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is”? (16:13) In other words, do the people understand who Jesus is?
They gave the general reaction of the crowds. He was seen as a man of God and a man of, and for, the people. He was in the mould of the great Prophets
Then He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am”? (16:15). They knew from their own experience that Jesus was far more than anything the people thought. But did they have the courage to come out and actually say what they really believed? Peter did.
He expressed in his own words what his friends were perhaps unsure how to say, (16:16) “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”: a pivotal moment in Jesus’ Ministry.
This is a passage in which we too are challenged by the same question, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
It is a question that calls us back to basics. To the very foundation of what we believe. This question makes us focus our minds.
We may recall situations in life when, in the midst of dark times or difficulties, we were so down, we could see no hope. We may recall that, in prayer, Christ stayed with us and held us up.
For us, at that moment, He was the light that shone in the darkness. It may have been then we realised “You are the Christ, the son of the living God”.
Peter didn’t know all the answers to life or faith, but he did know the answer lay in Jesus. Through his experience over the past few years he came to know within himself, Jesus was the Christ. And he said it.
To which Jesus makes another pivotal statement, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church”. (16:18)
Peter is not the rock on which the Church is founded, that rock is God. But Peter was first to realise and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of the living God; as Messiah.
This was the starting point. Peter is the foundation in as much as he was the first person to make the connection of the relationship of Jesus the Son with God the Father.
It is a Church in which all Believers have a part. In Ephesians (2:20) we read that all Believers are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
While in 1st Peter (2: 4-8), all Christians are living stones, who are to be built into the fabric of the Church with Jesus as the capstone, the foundation stone.
The Church is a living community not a lifeless building. It is the uniting in faith of different people with different characteristics, abilities, backgrounds, strengths and yes, weaknesses. It is our uniting in Christ with all our diversity that makes the Church.
In the life of the Church, all are needed, and everyone has a place. Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome says, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship”, (Romans 12:1).
We are called to be sacrificial people not superficial people. It is serving, it is working, it is helping, it is giving of ourselves. This is faith in action. This is practical worship. This is living worship.
Jesus asks the question, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
While we may declare with our words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, let us also demonstrate it by our actions in offering our bodies as living sacrifices – this is our spiritual act of worship.
In that way we glorify God and give a living, practical and clear witness to the World. Let each one of us, in our own way, offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and get back to the basics of faith.
Let us pray,
Lord, God Almighty, we come in thanksgiving, grateful for the unfailing love and faithfulness You have shown toward us, Your people.
When we call out to You, You answer. When we are exhausted, You give us the strength to go on. When we find ourselves in trouble, You are there, standing beside us.
We know that You have blest us with different gifts, different ways in which we can serve You, but we can be slow to recognise these gifts. Forgive our blindness.
Open our eyes to see Your Kingdom and help us to be an active part of it. Make clear for us and guide us, in ways we may best serve You in your work in our world. And, as we go out in your service, fire our heart with the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Amen, and may we go forward, safe and secure in God’s love.