29 June 2017

Matthew 16:13-19

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 125


Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Peter. So we have the famous passage where Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus says that the Church will be founded on this rock.

Peter's declaration arises from the fundamental question: who is this Jesus? Arguably, raising that question is the whole point of the Gospels. Various possible answers are offered as if it's a multiple-choice exercise. And it is Peter, prone to jumping head first into any situation, who has the courage as well as the inspiration to blurt out his great statement of faith in Jesus as Christ and Lord, Son of the living God. He doesn't always get it right (as Matthew 16:22-23 shows), but here he is spot on.

The 12 disciples were a motley collection of people. The divine recruitment policy is nothing if not imaginative. It is remarkable that the central declaration of the whole Gospel should come from the mouth of a fisherman. But what an encouragement this should be for those of us feeling poorly qualified to respond to the call of God in Christ.

For all his impetuousness, there's an air of dependability about Peter. Psalm 125 has a rock simile for the faithful: they are like Mount Zion itself, which cannot be moved. And, of course, that strength derives from one source only, the Lord.

The hymn How sweet the name of Jesus sounds surveys a wide range of images for him, including "the rock on which I build". It's one of John Newton's several great hymns about the wonder of God's saving work in Christ, amazing grace indeed.

To Ponder

  • How willing are you to share insights and what you believe, perhaps at the risk of getting it wrong or receiving an adverse response?
  • Are you ever tempted to keep quiet because you think other people are better qualified to speak for Christ? (Honestly, is that true - what qualifications so you actually need?)

Bible notes author

The Revd Alan Bolton

The Revd Alan Bolton is a Methodist minister serving in the Connexional Team with responsbility for the Church's complaints and discipline process. He is also a musician and was a member of the group producing new music resources for Methodist worship.