Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19 [alternate reading: Matthew 8:5-17]
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, 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 Eli'jah, 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 Bar-Jona! 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."
Epistle: 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18
6 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Meditation: Today in many churches of the East and West the Apostles Peter and Paul are commemorated. Both were martyred in Rome in the first century. They tirelessly worked for the spread of the gospel, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations as well. They risked their lives in the process and gladly poured out their blood in loyalty to their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul so eloquently stated in his second epistle to Timothy, they courageously fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).
How firm is your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: Who do men 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. Through the gift of faith Peter recognized that Jesus was the "annointed one" (in Hebrew and Greek the word is translated as Messiah and Christ), and the only begotten Son of God sent by the Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God. Jesus then confered 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. 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."
1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise
shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 O fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want!