‘Who Do You Say That I Am?’
With Peter, the church confesses that God Himself came into the world clothed in human flesh to save believers and give them forgiveness and salvation.
“[Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’” (Matt. 16:15–17).
Have you ever wondered how you would have answered Jesus’ question? We would like to have been ready to make such a magnificent response, but our words and deeds too often speak otherwise. Lord, have mercy!
It is for this very reason that Jesus Christ has come into the world — to remove despair and provide assurance. What came out of Peter’s mouth was the faith held by the one holy, catholic and apostolic church, confessed in common but so personally explicit: that this is God Himself, Son of the Father, come, clothed in human flesh, to save me and you from destruction and damnation. In His victory over sin and death lies the final and complete solution to your sin-and-death problem — in every sin absolved and in the resurrection of your body. As Son of the living God, this Christ is thus your eternal life and hope.
Jesus pronounces Peter blessed because God the Father has revealed the Son. The Small Catechism rings loudly here: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him” (SC, Creed). The disciples were given to grasp Him by faith. Not by clever human invention or by enduring a boot camp for missionaries-in-training unto martyrdom, but rather by the revelation of divine truth to simple men, flawed sinners all, who then handed it over to the following generations in the Word preached. Believers are gathered into His Body, the una sancta, the multitude that the Christ continues to expand, against which not even the citadel of Satan could ever prevail.
When we as the church confess that we, too, believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, we pull Peter’s bold assertion into view. With love and eagerness and the peace which passes all understanding, we pursue our labors in His name, a few examples of which are set forth in this issue of Lutherans Engage the World. To God alone be the glory!
In His hands,
Rev. Kevin D. Robson
Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod