Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (August 24): "My Father in heaven has revealed this to you"

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon BarJona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth  shall be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Meditation: Whi is Jesus for you? At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: "Who do the people say that I am and who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The gift of faith
What enabled Peter to recognize that Jesus was more than a man of flesh and blood? Through the gift of faith Peter recognized that Jesus was the "Anointed One" - called the Messiah in Hebrew and the Christ in Greek - and the only begotten Son who was sent from the eternal Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God himself. We cannot recognize the true reality of God the Father and the only begotten Son except through the gift of revelation which God gives to those who seek him. Jesus then conferred on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers could overcome. Jesus played on Peter's name which is the same word for "rock" in both Aramaic and Greek.

Spiritual rock and living stones
To call someone a "rock" is one of the greatest of compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I have discovered a rock to found the world upon." Abraham put his trust in God and made God's word the foundation of his life and the bedrock of his faith. Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to proclaim that Jesus was truly the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God.

The New Testament describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house and temple of the Holy Spirit with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks - spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior who has set me free from sin and deception. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior."

Psalm 138:1-3,6,8

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the angels I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;  for you have exalted above everything your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me, my strength of soul you increased.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he knows from afar.
8 The LORD will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures for ever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: How peace requires a sword, by Epiphanius the Latin (late 5th century AD)

"Did the Lord not know what people called him? But by questioning he brought forth the conviction of the apostle Peter and left for us in the future a strong affirmation of faith. For the Lord questioned not only Peter but all the apostles when he said, 'Who do you say that I am?' Yet one on behalf of all answered the King, who is in due time to judge the whole world. He is God, both God and man. How miserable does this make those who are false teachers and strangers now, and to be judged in eternity. If Christ is the Son of God, by all means he is also God. If he is not God, he is not the Son of God. But since he himself is the Son, and as the Son takes up all things from the Father, let us hold this same one inseparably in our heart because there is no one who escapes his hand." (excerpt from INTERPRETATION OF THE GOSPELS 28)


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author Don Schwager 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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