When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20Human tumult brings a number of trials into our common life. Tumult, you say? War, economic stress, distress due to conflict or disaster....or perhaps the most daunting of tumults, Change. I am not speaking to "little" change....like deciding to have an egg for breakfast instead of granola, or the route we take to work, to school or to church. The change I speak of is the sort of change that manifests when who, what and how we have been becomes a model of life that is no longer sustainable.
Sure, we can throw money, power, influence, even coercion at the challenge. We can dig in our heels and even "fight back" when change comes down the pike. But, eventually, and surely when change is of God, the thing we seek to hold back will eventually break over us like a vast wave. Change, even Godly change, then feels overwhelming, daunting and sometimes, somehow even WRONG (mostly due to the fact that it is unwanted at this moment).
The change that Jesus is talking about as he asks the disciples who people say that he is strikes me as a master class in seeing the forest AND the trees of a dramatic moment of change, a change that will eventually alter the course of human history and further to completion the desire of God to see all of creation redeemed. If Jesus were just of a type, a John the Baptist, or an Elijah...or even someone LIKE one of the prophets of old, then the change he preaches could be pushed and pulled into context and out of the dramatic and intense transformational reality it is actually proposing. He would ne just another voice in the wilderness. Just another prophet. Just another rabbi/rebel leader in a back water province of one of the greatest empires that the world has known.
But he is not just another anything.
Peter is the first to confess it, "You are the Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God who is coming into the world...."
Jesus names Peter as the rock on which he will build his community. Peter will hold the keys, and will be the one who will open the gate...
You see, Peter is the first one to really recognize the change coming to reality. If Jesus IS the Messiah, then the world will never be the same. History will flex on the nexus of Jesus' life and his teaching is going to alter the fabric of the human story.
What that means to us? That the alteration of the human story is also the tale of our own transformation, our own change from being a people apart from God and each other to becoming a people who are now bound forever to God and to a profound interdependence with each other.
Therein lies out greatest challenge in a life committed to following Jesus. If humanity is now bound to God and by that we are bound to each other, then EVERY person is now Christ to us. You are Christ to me, and I am Christ to you.
Are you ready for that change in your life? Are you ready to confess that the other people in your life, from spouse to stranger and from friend to enemy, is really Christ to you?
Blessed are you, dear one....for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.....
Oh, my....talk about change!