Posted by on Aug 22, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Show and Tell

Dear Lord…open our minds to your message this day. How can we spread your love and grace to others? This is what you are asking us to do every day….to spread your message to the whole world.

The message for this Sunday is based on the gospel of Matthew 16:13-20. In this section, we are seeing more of the maturity and learning of the disciples as to who Jesus is and preparation for what the disciples will experience and observe when they witness Jesus’ crucifixion.

Before studying these verses, we need to go back to the first 12 verses of Matthew 16 and discover what brought Jesus and the disciples to this point. In the first four verses of this chapter, Jesus is being asked by the Pharisees and Sadducees to show them a sign from heaven.

Jesus tells them they cannot interpret any signs, except for what the skies reveal and the only sign “evil and adulterous generations” will receive is the “sign of Jonah”. In looking up that phrase, I found that Jesus referred to this phrase a lot. It means “resurrection”. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days….and came out alive. It is a very pointed reference to the fact that Jesus will die on the cross, but will be resurrected on the 3rd day. Most of the people hearing it would not understand.

After saying this to the rulers of the temple, Jesus left with the disciples. They went “to the other side”…where they are, we do not know. But, they forgot to bring food along with them. Jesus told them to be careful and aware of the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He is not referring to the actual bread or yeast and gently reminds them of feeding the five thousand, feeding the four thousand and of the amount of bread gathered up by them that was left over.

Jesus asked them why they thought Jesus was speaking about bread when he was really warning them of the false teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees…that grew when people heard only what they wanted to hear.

So…the whole group moved on to Caesarea Phillippi….and Jesus asked the disciples who they thought Jesus was. Jesus uses the term, “Son of Man.” The disciples repeated what they had heard other people say about who Jesus was. However, Jesus wanted them to say who “they” thought Jesus was.

This town is about 25 miles from the Sea of Galilee and the town is totally pagan…not believing in God.

Here is where we see Peter state, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” He is representing the disciples in this statement. It appears they are all seeing Jesus as a direct agent from God. Matthew also records that God spoke directly to Peter to give that revelation to him and the remainder of the disciples. Someone just had to voice that. Jesus renames Peter the “rock”, or another name for Peter.

Jesus also states that on the rock, he will build his church. Matthew is the first writer to use the word, “church”. He also states that the “keys to the kingdom” will be given to him. And, he ordered the disciples to not tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

So, you say, what does this have to do with us? This section from Matthew is about the identity of Jesus as well as our identity as followers of Jesus. In the statement Peter made, he declared that Jesus is the one who connects, who brings together human need and divine presence. Jesus reconciles and brings us back in touch with God.

Because we are followers of Jesus and believe that he IS the Son of God and the Messiah, we are part of the community of faith in Christ’s kingdom. We are not individual followers, but we are part of a community. Just as Peter and the disciples were transformed, so have we been transformed. We, as the disciples, are part of this community of faith.

Paul speaks later of Jesus as being the cornerstone of the church. Matthew claims Peter as the foundation…Christ as the builder…we are the materials and the one who gives shape to the building that is the church. Jesus gave the disciples the power to be bound to the church as well as the loosing the church from the bonds of sin. We have this power, also.

What does this really mean? It means that we are called to teach and interpret what we read in God’s word. We are to interpret scriptures so they are intelligible to the world. We are to inform, share and teach about who answers our prayers. We are to speak about the desire of our hearts and how our needs are fulfilled.

It is our responsibility to share the identity of Christ in the world. So they can become part of those who are called to become part of the church. How do we help the people do this? We evangelize. I know this is a concern…but let’s view evangelism as conversing with people and especially listening to people. But the more powerful way to evangelize and bring people to Jesus is to SHOW them who the Messiah is, not just tell the people.

How do we show people who the Messiah is? We show it in how we live. How do we spend our time? What difference does Jesus make in our lives? If people see our actions, they will ask “why do you care?” “Why do you do what you do.” We lead with God.

There was a statement made today I think goes along with this: “I see the world through the people that surround me.” How about if we change this to say, “I see Jesus’ love and forgiveness through the people who show me Jesus through what they do and what they say.” That is evangelism in our day….and how we are being asked to build Christ’s community. By showing our commitment to Jesus and growing his community, we help to build it.

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