Monday, March 8, 2010

40 Days of Lent: Day 6

Today marks the Holy Day of the Feast of The Chair of Saint Peter, the Apostle.  While we reflect through Lent, our yearning to strengthen our relationship with Jesus, we must take notice and also reflect upon the prophetic words and beauty, spoken by Jesus to Peter:

Peter 5:1-4
13(A) Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say(B)John the Baptist, others say(C) Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied,(D) "You are(E) the Christ,(F) the Son of(G) the living God." 17And Jesus answered him, (H)"Blessed are you,(I) Simon Bar-Jonah! For(J) flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,(K) but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you,(L) you are Peter, and(M) on this rock[a] I will build my church, and(N) the gates of(O) hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19I will give you(P) the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and(Q) whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven."

To fully understand the above verse and the meaning behind it, we must have a rudimentary understanding of the time when Jesus lived - the political climate, if you would.  The Romans had been occupiers of Jewish homeland for years upon years, imposing taxes and their ideology upon all that they conquered.  There were, at this time, many zealots who appeared and spoke of GOD and preached of the coming of the messiah.  John the baptist, himself, was a prophet, baptizing and preaching about the one coming with fire to cleanse all.  Jesus came and taught a great multitude - preached about his father's kingdom and perform miracles.  News of this 'man' spread widely amongst the Nation of Israel.  But the establishment in power had other plans for the Lord.

When Jesus spoke the above words, the proverbial writing was on the wall and the tide of favor by the common people was being turned by the religious leaders and he knew, the end was coming soon.

So Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do the people say that I am?".  The disciples presented sound answers that were reasonable at the period given people's expectations of a 'holy' presence.   None of the answers were bad - just not correct.  To be called Elijah or Jeremiah fit a lot of views at the time by the Jewish people of who the 'messiah' was supposed to be.

So, Jesus asked his disciples directly of who they thought he was?  This could have been answered a thousand different ways, but Simon simply said in a factual manner: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

WOW!  You can't blame Peter for being a direct-to-the-point type of guy.  Read that statement again:  YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD!

A factual statement - no, a revelation.  You are the Christ.  And with this statement, Simon is forever altered and changed.  Jesus addresses him and says that he is blessed and that NO MAN HAS SAID THIS, but that this revelation has been granted to him BY GOD DIRECTLY!  This is important.  It wasn't Simon who said, "I think you are... "  or "We talked and we think you are...", but "YOU ARE..."!

Jesus goes on to say that "You shall be called PETER, and on this ROCK I will build my church".

I believe Jesus is telling Peter (notice I no longer call him Simon) that his statement is the rock upon which his church will be built.  Is not Peter's statement, in fact, a dogmatic truth of our religion?

To build our faith and grow with the Lord, we too must have a strong foundation from which we can build our relationship with God.  This foundation begins with Peter's words:  You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!  With this, our relationship, our community, our church will have all the foundation necessary to grow and flourish.

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