Reflection on Matthew 16:13-20 (12th Sunday after Pentecost)

Let us pray: Everlasting God, we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ and for revealing him as Messiah and Savior of the World. Thank you that your son gave Saint Peter the keys to the kingdom as a reward for his lively and outspoken faith and so became the bedrock foundation of your church here on earth. Amen.

Jesus asks for people’s opinions about him. The answers are remarkably diverse. When he asks his disciples for their opinion, Peter becomes their representative and says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the   God!”  What if we were to see ourselves, called and blessed in our encounter with God’s Messiah?  And what would our answer be if asked the same question: Who do you say I am? Do we have a belief that Jesus is truly the Son of God? Do we question our faith or is our faith strong enough to believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God? We need to understand that the people in Jesus’ time were firsthand witnesses of His miracles, they heard his lessons and parables, they experience His love and compassion and yet they did not recognize Him and turned away from him.  So how do we expect to believe when those who had firsthand knowledge didn’t believe.

Now Jesus calls attention to Peter’s answer, and He with this reasoning makes Peter the rock on which His church will be built.  Even though Peter answered that Jesus was the Son of God, there were times Peter didn’t stand up and recognize Jesus as the Son of God, like when he denied Christ three times.  Like Peter there are times we don’t recognize Christ as the Son of the living God. Perhaps we don’t feel comfortable among others discussing our faith, or we use the excuse that among friends you don’t discuss religion, politics or money.   Yet even when we fail as Peter did, to stand and boldly confess who Christ Jesus is, that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Christ has assured us that the Church will prevail. What a gracious Lord and Savior we have.  So you and I can rest in the assurance the same as Peter and all the saints that we are forgiven. Imagine a Lord so generous in grace, that even when you fail to recognize him, He still forgives you, for that is the Savior you have. He died upon the cross for each and every time we have sinned. The Son of the living God was crucified, so that in spite of all of your sins, and my sins and the sins of the whole world, we can stand blameless and without sin before our Father in heaven. That is what Jesus took upon Himself when we gave Himself up to be crucified. He stood in our place and took the wrath of His Father for our sin, for your sin, and for mine. Even though we fail to recognize Him each and every opportunity we have, we have the tremendous promise that if we believe we will have eternal life in the Kingdom of heaven.

And so, dear friends, please remember: It is hard to believe in Jesus Christ; it is harder not to. It is hard to live the life our Lord inspires, it is harder not to. It is hard to belong to the Church; it is harder not to. May our loving God give us the faith and the stamina to live as his sons and daughters, now and always. Amen.

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