Trinity News and Sermons

08/24/14 Sermon Bullets

Matthew 16:13-20

  • Who do you say that I am? Jesus asks his closest followers. What are folks saying about me?
  • Having engaged in ministry for a bit of time which has included teaching/preaching, healing, admonishing, etc., Jesus seeks to know what affect he is having – if the message is “getting through.”
  • Those of us who communicate regularly wonder at times if folks comprehend the message we are trying to share: “Am I clear? Sometimes they respond positively and sometimes not. Are they listening? Does it make any difference what I say and write for their lives?”
  • The disciples tell Jesus that folks think he is Elijah, one of the prophets, or even John the Baptist raised from the dead. Then Jesus asks the KEY question: “Who do YOU say that I am?”
  • THIS is the key question for us as well. Who do you say that Jesus is? What is he to you? As you have encountered this Jesus in your life – either through reading about him, or praying to him, or walking with him spiritually – or even more receiving him in the Holy Communion, just who is Jesus to you?
  • This question is one that each of us should contemplate not only when we are in church, but all through the week. In fact, I urge you to think about it for a bit of time, and then contact me for a conversation even if it is electronically through Facebook or email! Who is Jesus for you?
  • In our gospel lesson, Peter declares boldly, “You are the Messiah (Christ), the Son of the Living God!” And Jesus blesses him, telling Peter and all the followers that Peter is blessed because he did not figure this out on his own, but the Spirit of the Living God revealed it to him.
  • Then Jesus tells Peter that this faith, revealed by the Holy Spirit, will be the foundation of the church, and even hell itself will not be more powerful. And Jesus says that Peter (and all of us who profess our faith in Jesus) is given the very power to forgive!
  • This is at the heart of who Jesus is. This is the heart of who we are: those who have been given power to forgive. And we forgive, because God in Jesus forgives.
  • Jesus is many things in the gospels: teacher, miracle worker, feeder, challenger of the status quo, healer. But the most important thing that Jesus is, that Jesus does – is to die for us so that our sin may be forgiven!
  • Just after the message we have for this day in Matthew, after Jesus tells the disciples to NOT reveal who he is, he tells them that he must suffer and die and then be raised from the dead. He is telling them that what it means to be Messiah/Christ, the Son of the Living God – is to die! This seems so very strange. Peter even takes Jesus aside and rebukes him: “God forbid!” And Jesus tells Peter to quit thinking like humans and start thinking like God.
  • In the gospels (and most especially in Mark) there is something we call the Messianic secret. This is that one should not look at the miracles, teachings, etc., of Jesus to see what it means to be the Son of God. What it means to be Messiah is to die on the Cross for our sin. In Mark, it is a centurion (a non-believer) who professes faith when he sees Jesus, this innocent man, die and states in some translations: “Surely this man is the Son of God!”
  • This act on our behalf makes Jesus who he is. There were many healers, many great teachers, many persons calling themselves Messiah in Jesus’ day. But Jesus shows the power of God by dying and rising from the dead. Jesus reveals the love of God by not letting our self-centered wrongness separate us from God forever. Jesus bridges the chasm between God and humanity with his self-giving love – his very life on the Cross. THIS IS WHO HE IS!
  • And in that self-giving act of love and forgiveness, he frees us to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. His love frees us to love him, ourselves and others!
  • Even later in Matthew – after he shares that what it means to be Son of God is to suffer, die and rise, he says: If you want to follow me, you too must take up the cross. Deny yourself; don’t put yourself first in life. Think of others. Live as a servant. GIVE YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFE AWAY FOR THE WORLD. That is the way to follow in my footsteps.
  • We follow a God who calls us to respond in faith by walking in a new way – as servants one to the other!
  • In today’s world, where various expressions of religion bring violence and death around our globe, we encounter this encouragement and challenge.
  • Which leads me to ask this: Who is Jesus for you? And given that response, as you and I think about our expressing of our faith in our everyday lives, and as people witness that expression in our actions: Who will people say that you and I are?