Who do you say that I am?

08-27-2017Pastor's LetterFr. Chauncey Winkler

Dear Parish family,

What is your commitment to Jesus Christ? Let me be clear, I'm not asking what your commitment used to be when you were younger, or what you would like it to be someday in the future, or what you wish it was like if only circumstances were different. The question really is what does my commitment to Jesus Christ look like today, this week, this month, and this year?

Up to this point in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been challenging his disciples regularly with hard lessons, dispelling their false ideas with his truth, pointing out weaknesses they didn't know they had, and calling them to mature discipleship. Now Jesus brings them to Caesarea Philippi and asks them for a commitment. "Who do you say that I am?"

Jesus is not asking this question out of curiosity in case they have any interesting ideas to discuss over coffee later on. No. The words that come from their mouths in answer to this question will be spoken to Jesus as a commitment. This question counts. This answer will count.

Simon is the first to commit. "You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God." What is he committing to? Let us ask ourselves this morning if we are ready to make the same commitment.

"You are the Christ" = "You are the Messiah, the chosen one of God." The Messiah is Israel's only hope for salvation. The Jews have been waiting for God to send the Messiah for hundreds of years. Every devout Jewish mother hoped one of her son's would be the Messiah. He is not just the hope for God's people; He is the ONLY hope for God's people. It is true, other false messiah's had come before Jesus, attracted followers and failed. So, Simon Peter's profession to Jesus now is not without risk. But, he does commit. He professes what God the Father had given him to profess. He did not figure this out because he was clever, nor did he blurt out words too impulsively. He spoke because God the Father called him to speak. With this profession, Simon Peter was committing himself to accept whatever Jesus asked of him. He was committing himself to accept new responsibility from Jesus.

Think about it for a moment. It would be inconceivable for Simon Peter to say: "You are the one Messiah, the one we have been waiting for. You are the answer to all of our prayers and the goal of our way of life. But don't ask too much of me or I won't do it." Would it have made any sense to God if Simon had defined himself according to his weaknesses and fears rather than according to his gifts? Certainly Simon had never imagined himself getting a new name from God and a new unique role that he could not have understood on that day. What do you and I say to the Lord? Who do we say He is? What is my commitment?

The Lord who made us knows why he made us. He knows how to call upon the gifts that he has hidden within us for His own purposes. We will never know these gifts without His call. And, we will never know what he has in store until we respond to His call with commitment.

When Jesus asks you a question… go ahead and answer according to what God is putting in your heart.

  • Love,
  • Father Chauncey
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