Monday, February 15, 2016

Daily Devotional: February 15

7th Century icon of St. Peter

Week 4, Day 1, The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 16

Life isn't very straightforward, and neither are most of us. We do things all the time that contradict things we have done or said previously. We do things that we know are stupid, or wrong, or harmful so often that we have whole schools of philosophy devoted to figuring out why. I find comfort in reading that the giants of our faith were the same way.

If you were making up a religion, it would be really easy to paint the founders of the religion to be perfect. People want to follow people who seem to have it all together, but we don't see the writers of the Gospels doing that at all. In fact, in today's reading, the disciples seem to forget that they just saw Jesus do two miracles providing food to hungry people. When we are hungry, or stressed, or at the end of our ropes, it is difficult to remember our identity as beloved. It is even harder to remember Jesus' identity. 

Who do YOU say that I am?

An example of the disciples being flawed is found in what's known now as "the confession of St. Peter" in chapter 16. Jesus is asking His followers about who the crowds think they are coming to see. No one really knew what to make of Jesus. He was so different from their conception of Messiah or savior that they didn't know what box was His. Jesus listens to the disciples deliver the gossip and then asks a pointed question.

Who do YOU say that I am?

Peter answered and his answer is viewed as one of the most important moments in the history of the Church. He answered that Jesus was Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus responds by affirming Peter's answer, and declaring it to be the rock on which the entire Church would be built. He also proclaims that only God can reveal that fact to a man. 

It's our allowance of Jesus to convince us of who He is that gives us life. Our identity is beloved, our identity is children of God. Our identity is reconciled. God reveals to us our identity constantly, we just have to believe Him. We have to believe what Peter says. 

Peter then is called Satan by Jesus a paragraph later. He still didn't understand what a Messiah was going to do. He confessed that Jesus was the Christ, but didn't really let the gravity of that statement sink in. Jesus isn't saying Peter is literally Satan, but is showing that setting our minds on what we want to be true instead of what is being revealed to us by God is against God. If we look for the culture of the West to give us our identity, then all we have to live for is our bank accounts. What does it profit us to gain the whole world and lose our soul, lose our identity?

Spend time asking Jesus "Who do YOU say that I am?" and then allow Him to ask you the same question.

Who do YOU say that I am?

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.