Readings: Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20
So when Jesus asks, “who do people say that I am?” it is a loaded question. And Simon Peter’s answer, “you are the messiah, the son of the living God!”, sounds like a challenge to Caesar. It is a title that he has been waited for, for generations, but it is a dangerous claim to make in Rome. It is one that has political connotations that go against everything Rome has set up.
What did Peter mean when he said “Messiah?” That’s hard to know for sure. But what do we mean by that title today? Did Jesus come to rally his people against the other nations?
When we say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, one of the things we mean is that he is God’s self-disclosure of who God is. Jesus came in love, God is a God of love. Jesus came eating with tax collectors and sinners, God is a forgiving God. Jesus associated with Samaritans and Canaanites, God is an inclusive God. Jesus succumbed to death on a cross. God is selfless in God’s love for us. Jesus Rose from the dead. God is a victorious God, a living God. And Jesus came to bring all things back to relationship with himself.
You are included in that relationship. Holy Baptism is our entrance into this mysterious union, with God, with Christ, with the whole community of faith.
In baptism we are symbolically drowned, symbolically washed, but truly made alive in faith, made clean by sheer gift of God in Christ Jesus.
The washing, the death and resurrection of baptism, unites us with Christ’s death and resurrection. In baptism, the Holy Spirit bonds us in love to God and to Jesus Christ. It inseparably bonds us with the very love of God, to God and Jesus Christ, and consequently, to one another, making us all members of Christ’s body. One body, and individually members of one another, members of Christ’s body.
The confession of Jesus Christ as messiah, as the son of the living God, is the rock on which we stand--it is the foundation on which the church is built.
Jesus Christ and his promises of forgiveness and new life that we find attached to the water of baptism. This is our tangible experience of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ.
Likewise we come to the table of our Lord. We meet him in the meal, his body in the bread and his blood in the wine. We taste and are filled with the forgiveness and everlasting life offered by Jesus. We are joined, again, with him and his love for all of creation.
What kind of Messiah is Jesus? He came to reconcile all things back to God. He is the Word of God itself, incarnate, for you; and the rock on which the church, his body is built. Through your baptism, in the eating of the holy meal, you are forgiven, made new, and joined to this savior, and to his mission of love and redemption for you, and for all creation.
Jesus loves you, and you belong to him. He has come to make the world right, bringing all things back to himself. He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and you are his church.