The All Important Question
In today’s readings we examine the most important question in all the world. From the Gospel of Matthew:
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.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
How fitting it is to have the Confession of Peter observed within the Season of the Epiphany. Peter was first among the apostles to confess that Jesus is the Messiah. The Apostle Peter’s earthly testimony compliments the heavenly one. At the baptism of Jesus God the Father spoke from heaven, testifying that Jesus is His beloved Son.
Peter’s testimony was quite remarkable. At a time when there was much confusion and speculation about who Jesus was, Peter had come to a clear and concise conclusion about Jesus’ identity. He did not do so by his own reasoning alone, however:
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. (Matthew 16:17)
We remember that Peter not only confessed Jesus as the Messiah, but later he also denied Jesus. Just before the crucifixion Peter proclaimed that he would never leave or forsake Jesus. But Jesus knew better. He understands the frailties of human beings:
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:34)
Jesus gives us this warning concerning our confession:
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
Peter discovered that he could not continue in the Faith on his own strength. He needed the strength that only God could provide. We remember that Jesus forgave Peter and restored him after the resurrection.
Throughout his ministry Peter’s testimony was bold and clear:
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Today many people are confused about who Jesus is and what may be His place in history. Many biblical “scholars” have disputed the person and the ministry of Jesus. Yet, we have God’s testimony, Jesus’ testimony, and Peter’s confession recorded in Holy Scripture.
What will be our recorded confession? Our confession is all important in keeping the faith. Even more, our continued confession is all important. From the Book of Revelation:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades[b] has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. (Revelation 12:10-11)
At a time when Christians are being persecuted we will need God’s help to build and strengthen our faith as He did for Peter. This will be all the more true for the troubling days ahead. But with God’s help we will remain faithful to our testimony. Just as we have benefitted from Peter’s bold testimony, so many others may benefit from ours. Salvation is at stake.