January 18 marks the Confession of St. Peter. What is Peter’s confession? The setting is Caesarea Philippi, which serves as a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. The disciples and many large crowds had heard Jesus teach and preach and they had seen the many miracles that he performed. So having heard and seen what Jesus did, the natural question to ask was, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples gave a whole range of answers. But then Jesus puts the same question directly on the disciples, “And you, who do you say that I am?” It was Peter who spoke and answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” What Peter confessed was the equivalent to what the voice from heaven said at Jesus’ baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
The confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, given to unworthy human beings like Peter and us, is the rock on which Jesus has built the church. When we confess that Jesus, true God and true man, is or Lord, the power of God himself is with us. All of our sin, our failures, the wrongs we have done, the things we have left undone have no power to condemn us. The power of God in Jesus’ name forgives us. Satan has no power over us, neither have our enemies, nor any other power in the world when we confess that Jesus is our Lord. And our death has no power over is. To confess that Jesus is the Son of the living God is to be blessed with the sure and certain hope of resurrection where the gates of death can never prevail against us.
The confession that Christ is the Son of the living God also defines the mission of the Church. All that we do in worship, education, fellowship and outreach, we do to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. This is our purpose – to take the confession God our heavenly Father has given us and to practice it everyday in our living, and to proclaim it to all peoples.
Text adapted from First Lutheran Church, Carlisle, PA (no longer available)
Image from Episcopal Lectionary