I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your post. On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house.
Psalm 138:1-3, 6, 8
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Now 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.
People who do not follow Christ will sometimes admit that Jesus Christ must have actually lived. They may say he was a great teacher like a Buddha. They may say that he was a prophet like some of the people in Jesus’ day were saying about him. Some people, even baptized Christians who do not follow Christ closely, will testify that Jesus was the Son of God but they do not really let that knowledge affect them. They do not take it to heart that Jesus came to save us; he came to suffer, die, and rise to save us from the deadly effects of sin. If they really knew that, they would have a relationship that was filled with gratitude and hope. They would love him and want to please him and help others to receive Jesus as Lord and come into the Kingdom of God.
Peter tells Jesus in the gospel today that he is the Messiah. He is not a mere holy person or representative of God. Though he performed miracles and could talk to God, he was not merely a prophet. Though he had the courage to stand his ground against the religious leaders of the time, he was not John the Baptist or another teacher. Jesus was 'the anointed one' and prophesied deliverer of the Jewish people.
When Jesus hears that Peter understands this, he gives him the authority to lead his Church. Peter, a nobody fisherman, is raised up to the highest office of the body of Christ on earth.
Peter believed that Jesus was the long-awaited King but so did Herod who sought to destroy him. So it matters less that we believe in Jesus than if we relate to him and follow him as our savior. We can ask ourselves the same question today. Who do we say Jesus is? And if we listen to what our hearts truly tell us, we will learn a lot about our relationship with him.
Is Jesus our personal savior who loves us and hears our prayers? If he is God, do we go to him in humility to praise, thank, worship, adore, and serve? Is he the God who answers us, strengthens our souls and fulfills his purpose in us? Or is he a demanding Lord with a lot of rules that thwart us from our personal goals? Maybe we believe in Jesus as the savior but we don’t really want to accept his ways. We may want to be our own kings and queens.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of salvation I have received through Jesus. May I always remember the greatness of this gift and the joy of my salvation. I trust you will give me all the good things you have prepared for me in your time. May my confidence in you grow more each day as I surrender myself to your service. I ask that you guard and guide me by your Holy Spirit alone to do your Will and make you truly the Lord of my life. Amen.