|Jesus the Liberating King|
Grant, O merciful God, that your Church,
being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit,
may show forth your power among all peoples,
to the glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
First Reading and Psalm: Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124
Alternate Reading and Psalm: Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138
Second Reading: Romans 12:1-8
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20
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.Lectionary Reflections for the Season after Pentecost:
Ekklesia Project: The Self under Attack.
Jesus receives the disciples’ reports, but then asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Some worry that when Jesus uses the identification “Son of Man,” as he does when he first asks the disciples who people say that he is, he is referring to the Son of Man in the third person. Yet Jesus’s subsequent question to the disciples leaves no doubt that when he asks about the Son of Man he is asking about himself. Jesus’s question is, moreover, directed at the disciples because they are the ones he has called, they are the ones to whom he has explained the parables, and they are the ones who have seen him still the waves and walk on water. Simon answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The disciples had identified Jesus as the Son of God as he returned to their boat with Simon, but now for the first time a disciple recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah, the one Israel long expected, the one who alone has the power to free Israel from its enemies. Jesus commends Simon, the son of Jonah, who recognizes that he is the Messiah—a king, but one not easily recognized. Jesus declares Simon, like those described in the Beatitudes, “blessed.”
At his baptism the voice from heaven identified Jesus as “my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). At this time, the voice of the Son declares that Peter is blessed because flesh and blood could not reveal to him that Jesus is the Messiah, but only his Father in heaven. Simon knows what he does only because it has been revealed to him. It is important, however, that Peter’s knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah not be used to develop a general theory of revelation. Simon does not learn that Jesus is the Messiah by some intuitive or mystical mode of knowing. Rather, Simon learns that Jesus is the Messiah because he obeyed Jesus’s command to be his disciple.