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29th June 2014 - Evening - Revd. Paul Snape
Sermon for Evening Parish Communion - 29th June 2014
Matthew 16: 13-19

Here we have a very direct question put by Jesus to the Apostles - Who do you say that I am?

I bet that if, say, three of us went to a football match, and all gave their reports of the match; it is most likely that you would get very different reports from each.

Well, so it is with tonight's gospel passage. Each of the gospel writers take the words of Peter's confession, as it is known, and places his personal `stamp' on it in such a way that emphasis will be put on the point he is trying to make. In verse 14 Matthew adds Jeremiah to the list, probably because many people at that time saw the similarity between Jesus and the Old Testament prophet.

Jesus used the disciples if you like as a `poll' of the people. He asked what other people were saying about him, and the disciples, fair do's, gave him honest answers.

These answers indicated that `most' people thought he was equal to the best of the Old Testament prophets. Then Jesus asked them 'who do YOU say that 1 am? Peter then gives his memorable reply: 'you are the Messiah'.

Well, what exactly doe he mean by that?
Different groups understood the term 'the Messiah' in different ways. Basically it meant a figure who would bring peace and justice through the gaining of political power and popularity. Certainly, he would be a victorious figure for whom the idea of defeat and suffering would the foreign.

In St Mark's gospel Jesus did not admit to, or deny, Peter's declaration, but according to St Matthew he immediately commended Peter for his suggestion, and reminded him what the name 'Petros' meant.

The question is whether our Lord was giving Peter a new 'image' - because in Biblical times a change of names often meant a change of character.
Or, does `rock' refer to Peter as a person, or to his faith and insight in recognising Jesus as the Messiah?

It is my view that Christ is the real and only foundation stone of the Church, and the fact that he uses people like Peter, Paul, James, John and others is something to celebrate.

They have given a firm foundation for the Church, but WE are the Church of 2014-Jesus is waiting to add our names to that list. Are we up for it?