Thursday, February 18 – Written by Nora Sanders

Who Do You Say That I Am?Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus asked this question of his closest friends and followers.
Why did he need to ask?
He must have wondered if they actually understood him, understood what he was teaching, understood what they were called to do and be.
Peter spoke up. He had a strong, clear answer. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
I wonder about the other disciples, the ones who did not speak up. Was Peter speaking for them too? Or were they less clear about it? Or were they hesitant to speak up after Peter had answered with such confidence? Did Peter’s articulation help them understand who Jesus really was?
As with all stories from scripture, I think about how this applies to me. To us. How do we as followers of Jesus answer this question today? We have Peter’s response as a model … do we believe it? Do our lives show that we believe it?
I like the banner that often hangs in Islington United Church … the one that has all the different words by which Jesus is described in the Bible. “Ancient of Days, Saviour, Gate, King of Kings, Shepherd, Faithful and True, Master, Alpha and Omega …” These are just a few of them. They are all good words to reflect on.
It makes sense to me that there are so many ways to describe Jesus. So much about Jesus is beyond our understanding, so the closest we can come is to use multiple words, each representing a different aspect of the amazing one we seek to follow.
Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” is as much for us today as it was for his disciples then. Implicit in those words is the need to think about who Jesus is – to the world, and to us. But he did not ask “Who do you think that I am?” This isn’t something to just turn over in our own minds. It is through our speaking and acting … that we express our response, and demonstrate our discipleship.
I appreciate the opportunities we have through the community of faith at Islington to share our understandings of this and other questions in scripture. Over the coming months, we can look forward to rich discussion of the question, “Who do you say that I am?” because our Moderator has chosen it as the theme for the United Church of Canada’s 44th General Council in 2022.
Prayer: Loving and beloved God, thank you for Jesus and the many ways that we may know him in our lives. Amen