Matthew 16 (The Message)
13 When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,
"What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?"
14 They replied, "Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah
or one of the other prophets."
15 He pressed them, "And how about you? Who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter said, "You're the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
17-18 Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church,
a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
19"And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven."
Who is He to you?
That question was posed at the end of a powerful video I ran across on a website recently. The video contained several people from obviously different backgrounds in life eloquently describing who God was to them.
Some of their answers included:
* a consuming fire
* light and big
* eternal hope
* my redeemer and my sustainer in trouble
* light that pierces darkness
* the rim on every cloud
* He is love and He loves me
* He is indescribable and yet He loves me
Honestly, I had to watch the video twice to allow it to all sink in. And watching it brought to mind the passages in the gospels where Jesus asked his disciples a similar question.
For some reason, the version in Matthew is the one I chose to look up this morning. And to be honest, this passage of scripture frustrates me whenever I read it. You will probably find my explanation of that statement very funny, but read on nonetheless.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those 12 men to have been hand-picked by Jesus to follow that closely with Him and serve His ministry. I wonder how much they really thought about what they were doing during the process or if they were just following out of faith. That is not really explained within the texts.
What frustrates me about Matthew 16, though, is Jesus posed this question and they obviously gave the correct answers. They answered the question directly, but the answers lack, well, eloquence. It’s as if I wanted them to suddenly become poets and offer words of fluent and beautiful alliteration. It was their moment to shine - and they were more dully straight forward.
This morning it hit me, though. These men most likely didn’t have the vocabulary to offer flowery speech. Many of them were laborers or simple fishermen. I’m not picking on them and I’m certainly not saying they’re ignorant, but how many times have you watched “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel and heard any of those guys spout
The other thing I’ve missed in the other times I’ve read these verses is: this transpired early in Jesus’ ministry. Although they had witnessed some of the miracles of Jesus and had an inkling into what He was capable of doing, they hadn’t really gotten a grasp of exactly how Jesus was going to literally transform the world as they knew it in that time and all of the eons to come.
They hadn’t “arrived” yet.
Nor have I.
Although I have known about God for more than 40 years, I have only recently begun to truly know who He is and what He is capable of doing. Had I been asked that question 20 years ago or even as soon as a decade ago, my answers would have been vastly simple compared to what I would reply today.
Who is He to me?
Maybe I shouldn’t be so frustrated with that passage of scripture after all. I can come up with some fluid, beautiful and poignant adjectives to describe God and His infinite roles in my life. But I’d like to believe, despite the times I waffle in my faith and despite the times I fail to honor Him and serve Him as consistently and deeply as I should, that my answer would come down to two simple words: my all.