- Matthew 16:13-20
“You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” With this statement in this week’s Gospel, Peter goes out on quite a limb. Jesus starts with a seemingly innocent question about the nature of the Son of Man. This is a concept that the disciples would have been very familiar with, as the Son of Man is another name for the coming Messiah. They would have learned about it from the time they were children. It also would have been a topic of much discussion in synagogues throughout Judea and Galilee as the Jews were always on the lookout for someone who might be the promised Messiah. It is not surprising, therefore, that the disciples had many answers ready to this question.
It is then that Jesus flips the script and turns the question around. “Who do you say that I am?” Here is where Peter steps out on a ledge. With his answer that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God, he affirms something that, for most Jews at the time, would have been considered blasphemous. How could Jesus, this carpenter’s son from Nazareth, be the Anointed One – the Messiah? As Jesus tells him, it is only through God’s revelation that Peter could have given this answer. And because of this divine revelation, Jesus declares that His church will be built upon Peter and his faith and that Peter will be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. All this because Peter correctly answered Jesus’ question.
At some point in our lives each of us will find ourselves in Peter’s shoes. We must all answer the question, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” It is perhaps the most important question we will ever answer, and yet Peter has given us the answer. He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the one who has come into this world to save us. We have an advantage that Peter did not have – the answer has already been given. But because of that we are held to a higher standard. It is not enough that we simply state the answer. Rather, we must conform our lives to His. We are called to radically transform our lives to be like Christ’s. Every aspect of our life should be directed toward fulfilling His will and spreading His message of love and forgiveness. In everything we do we are to be lights shining forth, helping to banish the darkness from this world. If we do this, then we truly can be assured that the Church built on Peter’s answer will remain standing until the end of time.