- Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19)
As you just heard in the Gospel reading, Peter was the first disciple to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. He understood that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, promised for more than a millennia. Just like many of the Jews at the time, he expected a Messiah that would conquer the Romans – a military savior.
Jesus knew he not only would not conquer the Romans, but would be put to death by these same oppressors. But by conquering death, he would indeed overcome all things.
Let’s take a look at Peter for a moment:
Peter was the first of the disciples to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. All the other disciples recognized Jesus was special, but didn’t connect this man standing before them with the long-awaited Messiah.
Because Peter recognized Jesus, he was promised the ‘keys to the kingdom’. That is a pretty big thing: dignitaries are often given the keys to a city to show how important they are. And Jesus also told him that Peter would establish his church on earth.
Sounds like Peter was very secure in his faith. But, he wasn’t always that sure:
- • Remember when he denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane?
• Remember when he was walking on water toward Jesus and then began to sink because he didn’t have faith?
• Remember when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him more than anything else? Remember how angry Peter got with those questions?
Yet, after Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter and most of the disciples hid in a room, afraid to come out. . . not remembering that Jesus said he would rise from the dead in three days. They all lost their faith
Yet, after his resurrection, the risen Christ appeared to Peter and other disciples
- • To Mary Magdalene at the tomb
• In the room where they were hiding behind locked doors;
• On the road to Emmaus;
• By the side of the sea;
• And even ate a meal with them.
He was always there for them, even when they had lost faith.
I know for me there are times that I question my faith
- • when things are going badly
• when I am depressed or discouraged
just like Peter and the disciples.
But we all need to remember that Jesus is always with us – just like he was with Peter and the disciples – and has always been. When things look bleak or times get tough, remember that you can always call on Him and He will be there.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, may everything we do begin with You, continue with Your help, and be done under Your guidance. Be there when we are lacking in faith, upholding us with Thy lovingkindness until we can again feel secure in your love for us. Amen
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church On Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 21 August 2011