But who do you say?

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

Many of you may be aware of the crowd-sourced online dictionary, Urban Dictionary, where contributors present their own forms of words or slang, and provide alternative definitions for existing words or phrases…it’s kind of fun.  For the heck of it one day I looked up Jesus Christ and found several proposed definitions; as of today there are 74.  Interesting.   At the time, we had recently studied the section in Matthew 16:13-20 where Jesus asks his disciples who do people say he is, so I thought that I would submit Peter’s response to UD (Number 3 on the list):

 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

 Pretty definitive I would say especially since it is supported by Jesus’s immediate response,

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 

So very simple put, our Christian spiritual journey is a reconciliation of our personal response to the ‘who is Jesus’ question with the response endorsed by The Man Himself. Would you agree?  Thankfully, many more gifted authors including C.S. Lewis get into this fundamental tenet of Christian belief in great detail and I would recommend spending the time necessary to come to Peter’s conclusion, if you haven’t already.  Our ability to respond in an informed manner to probably the most important question we will need to answer in our lifetime has eternal consequences – so give it some legitimate consideration.  (I thought that if it took as long as I spent getting my college degree that would be pretty reasonable.  It didn’t, as the evidence is quite compelling if you are willing to approach it with an open mind.)  But it is the next verse in this passage, spoken by Jesus, from where I got my latest revelation:

18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.

Up until this week, I thought that Jesus was placing the entire weight and future of the newly founded church squarely on the shoulders of Peter (and the other core disciples), like, “Hey guys I gotta go now!  Make sure you get this church of mine up and running til I get back!”   But now, to me, that thinking seems flawed, as it is not individual men, but their beliefs that form the bedrock of all great institutions.  And since this entire exchange begins with the question of who people believe Jesus is, it makes more sense that the rock Jesus is referring to is not so much Peter the man, but Peter’s belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God (and all that belief brings with it) which forms the foundation, the rock, on which our church is built – right?  And although Peter and the rest of the disciples were truly the right team at the right time, would not have God’s plan of salvation ensued regardless of who he selected as His earthly messengers?  (Do you think slavery would still exist if Abe Lincoln decided to become a dairy farmer?  Some causes are just too significant to be attributed to single individuals.)  So then, aren’t we, and all those believers that came after Peter, also disciples of Christ, obligated like Peter to spread the Gospel and demonstrate our belief?

Yeah, that’s what I thought…believing is a powerful thing.

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