ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

PETER'S ULTIMATE CONFESSION

The question was on everyone's lips: 'Who is this man?' Is he a prophet? Is he the Messiah? Is he a blasphemer? Is he a madman? Is he an agent of the devil?

He was not someone you could just ignore. His teaching was impactive. His miracles were impactive. His claims about himself were shocking. Everything about him demanded a verdict.

In an private confrontation Jesus pressured his disciples to give an answer. 'What about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'

It was a critical question. A vital question. If he is just a man, and they say he is just a man, then all is well. If he is just a man, and they ascribe deity to him, then they would be guilty of blasphemy. But, if he really is divine, if he really has come from above, and they say he is just a man, that too would be blasphemy. It would also be a denial of God. To fail at this point is to fail for eternity.

On the surface it seemed far safer not to answer this question. But here even silence is sin if this man really is God.

Only Peter dared to answer: 'You are the Christ. The Messiah. The Son of the Living God.'

No dreaded bolt came from heaven. No corrective denial from Jesus. Only affirmation. Only agreement. 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'

This faith, this knowledge, which Peter expressed, was not something he had worked out for himself. And, as later events demonstrated, it was not at this point something that he really understood. It was God-given knowledge planted in his mind by God himself.

This same challenge, this same question confronts each one of us. The Jesus of the incarnation, the Jesus of the miracles, the Jesus of authoritative teaching, the Jesus who claimed equality with God, the Jesus of the crucifixion and resurrection, stands before us and asks:

'What about you? Who do you say I am?'

Do we dare to affirm that he is the Lord?

Indeed, do we dare not to?

Scriptures: Luke 9:18-20; Matthew 16:13-17; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 4:36-37; 7:16,19, 9:7-9; John 5:23; 8:24.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008