Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you think I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ (Matt 16: 15-16)
In one of the weekend papers there is always a celebrity interview where the same questions are asked each week e.g. favourite music, play, book etc. One question is who would you like to have dinner with? It could be anyone past or present. I think Peter would be on my list of dinner guests for the following reasons:
Firstly, he was a fisherman, and being a keen fisherman myself I would like to find out about his fishing experiences on lake Galilee, some of which were with Jesus.
Secondly, Peter was a disciple, perhaps the best-known disciple – and maybe for not all the right reasons. He made some major errors, but it is hard to find any biblical characters that did not, apart from Jesus of course.
I find that extremely encouraging. Peter, for all his faults and failings recognised Jesus for who he was and is: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ (Matt 16: 16)
Even after making that declaration, which was amazing given most did not recognise Jesus as the Christ, this humble fisherman went blustering on, still making mistakes. Yet Jesus said to him: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,’ (Matt 16: 18). Not only that, Jesus also said: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matt 16: 19)
Peter is charged with starting a new community, the community of the church, and he has been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter is to be the rock upon which the church is built. Remember the parable of the wise man who built his house upon the rock? Jesus is giving this responsibility to Peter, the man who made many mistakes, the man who denied Jesus. Yet here he is, given the task of gathering together those whose allegiance is to Jesus as God’s anointed one; those who recognise their Saviour, repent of their sins, are baptised and receive the Holy Spirit.
Who do we say we are?
Who we are in Jesus opens up exciting opportunities. We are a kingdom people, irrespective of how inadequate we might feel, and what mistakes we might make. He accepts us just as we are and gives us free access to God’s kingdom, to open every door between heaven and earth and between earth and heaven.