June 2014 - Evening - Revd. Paul Snape
for Evening Parish Communion - 29th June 2014
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'
The question is whether our Lord was giving Peter a new 'image'
- because in Biblical times a change of names often meant a change
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?