Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 67; 150, Micah 1:1-9, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Matthew 16:13-20
In first century Palestine, self-proclaimed messiahs were like coffee houses in Seattle: there was one on every corner, each claimed to be more authentic than the others, and most of them were overpriced. Jesus was different. According to Reza Aslan in Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus stood out because he didn’t charge for his services, and he was reluctant to publicly use the title of Messiah.
When Jesus asked his disciples who people said he was, they answered: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” When he asked them who they thought he was, Peter said: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus blessed him and said: “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” He then instructed the disciples to tell no one he was the Messiah.
Who do you think Jesus is? Is your understanding one you have developed by listening to God, or is it one handed down to you by other human beings? Of course we are introduced to our faith by other people, usually our parents though sometimes friends or other sources, but after they make the introduction, it’s up to us to develop the relationship. Think of your friends: who each one is to you may be very different from who they are to others. Just as a friend who goes on impromptu road trips with you may be a friend who is a reliable, steady support for someone else, the role Jesus plays in each of our lives may differ. Some of us need him to help reign in our darker impulses, and some of us need him to help us lighten up on our judgmental tendencies. We can need him in lots of ways at once, so it’s important that we don’t assume our relationship with him should look exactly like someone else’s. We all know the same Jesus, but our experience of him is unique and we can’t let anyone dictate what it should be like.
Comfort: Your relationship with Jesus is both special and communal.
Challenge: Have you asked yourself lately who Jesus is to you? If not, meditate and pray on that.
Prayer: Lord of Heaven, I am humbled and blessed that you have known me by name even before I was born. Amen.
Discussion: Has anyone ever told you that you were doing Christianity “wrong?”
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