Who Do You Say That I Am

Matthew 16:13-20
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19I 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.” 20Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

I just spent the last few hours sorting through a family member's belonging in order to help move him on to the next phase in his life. It was an interesting experience. What makes up a person? What comes together to define who a person is and what mark they might have left on the planet? Are we the sum total of our possessions? The obvious answer to that is certainly "no"; but those possessions can give a few clues. Jesus has no possessions. You would not be able to identify Him by what He has at home because He has no home by this point. He is the combination of His actions and Words - miracles and truth.

Jesus' identity continues to challenge the Disciples and cause them to focus on Him in new ways. At the point of today's reading, Jesus and the Disciples are probably as geographically far away from Jerusalem as they ever where during His 3 years of ministry. As He prepares to return to Jerusalem for His suffering and death, He takes the time to clarify for the Disciples His identity yet again. "Who do people say that I am?"

Peter steps up with the truth. The confession that He utters is profound and rattles around in our hearts with reality and power.  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This confession moves us to answer the question for ourselves as well. Who do we say that Jesus is in our own lives? Is He one God among many? Does He hold the throne of our hearts or is He easily replaced by other distractions? Here we are challenged yet again along with the Disciples as Jesus explains that to follow Him will lead to difficulty! This is not an easy path, but a truly worthy one. Finally Jesus hands over "kingdom power" with the ability to bind what is bound in heaven and loose what is loosed in heaven. We become partners with God, exercising His will in our world. It is a powerful situation and we share in it with those original 12 Disciples.

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