Who do you say I am?

The way we answer Jesus has the potential to change our lives. If we acknowledge Jesus to be a divinely inspired teacher, then we will pay close attention to what He says so that we might believe it and live it.

Aug 25, 2023

Reflecting on our Sunday Readings  with Fr Andrew Manickam OFM Cap

21st Sunday of
Ordinary Time (A)
Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23
Romans 11:33-36;
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

“But who do you say that I am?” I wonder sometimes if we hear this question as Jesus’ mid-Gospel exam.

We are about half way through Matthew’s account of the Gospel. So, it makes sense that Jesus might gather the guys and say, “Ok let’s see what you’ve learned, if you really understand. Who am I?”

Most of us know the right answer. We’ve read Peter’s answer. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Today’s Gospel is not, however, about giving the right answer. This is not a test. This is not about what is in our head but what is in our heart.

I don’t think Jesus is asking us to just parrot back the answers we’ve heard or read. Maybe that’s why He pushes the disciples to move from what they are hearing around them — John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets — to what they are hearing within themselves. “But who do you say that I am?”"

The culture around Jesus viewed Him as nothing more than a great man, but Peter voiced a different opinion. Speaking for the disciples as a whole, Peter was never more accurate: “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One…the Son of the living God.” Peter nailed it! At that point in the discussion, Jesus changed the dialogue to a monologue and commended Peter for his statement: Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:17-18).

In commending Simon Peter for his spiritual insight about who Jesus was, the Lord unveiled even more truth about what He would do. In essence, Jesus told Peter, “Your words about Me are true. In fact, they are a foundational statement: like a rock. On this rocklike declaration I will build My church.”

So, what does it mean for us today to stand with Peter and say that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God?”

What is your answer to the question, “Who do you say I am?”

To be almost right about Jesus is to be totally wrong. Why? Because we are not saved by good opinions about Jesus. We not saved because we have a good feeling about Jesus. We are not saved because we like His moral teaching. That is not enough.

To come close is not enough. The truth about Jesus Christ must be ...

Personally understood
Personally grasped
Personally experienced
Personally possessed
Close is not enough!!!!

Remember the whole experience of Peter.

Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Not “I say You are the Christ” or “People say You are the Christ” or even “We got together and took a vote and we think You are the Christ.” It is a declarative statement — “You are the Christ.” Nobody can say that except by the work of the Holy Spirit because no man can discover that truth on his own.

That is why Jesus in verse 17 gives Peter a blessing. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.” It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, “It’s a remarkable thing, Peter, that a mere man discovered this.” That is, you didn’t go to seminary to figure this out. And you didn’t get this because you had a Ph.D. This came because God in heaven revealed it to you.

Now, where do you stand? Where do you stand this morning? No, you can’t leave until you answer. You don’t have to answer out loud, but you’ve got to answer.

Who is He? A good man? A great teacher? One of the finest fellows who ever walked the face of this earth? Or is He the Christ, the Son of the Living God?

Some say …

We say …

What do you say?

Who is Jesus Christ?

What is your answer?

You and I can spend our lives speculating about theology. We can study the Bible and spin out all sorts of fine ideas about Jesus. We can even become a master of “the quest for the historical Jesus.” But, in the end, each one of us has to answer for ourselves the central question of life: “Who do you say I am?” We need to decide whether Jesus is just a good teacher or just a miracle worker.

The way we answer Jesus has the potential to change our lives. If we acknowledge Jesus to be a divinely inspired teacher, then we will pay close attention to what He says so that we might believe it and live it.

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