August 27, 2017 Text: Matthew 16:13-20
Dear Friends in Christ,
Dorothy Leigh Sayers has been described as “a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist.” She died in 1957. Concerning our Lord Jesus Christ she wrote the following which I have always found interesting:
“The people who hanged Christ never accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with the atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew Him, however, He in no way suggested a milk and water person; they objected to Him as a dangerous firebrand…But He had a ‘daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,’ and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.”
But have things remained quiet and peaceful when it comes to Jesus? Hollywood, part of the scientific community, the humanists and liberal “theologians” can’t do enough to do away with Jesus! And us?
“WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH HIM?”
Jesus is traveling again this morning and He comes to Caesarea Philippi. He gets into a discussion with the disciples about who He is. You know the answers they gave of what people thought – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. Maybe the soul of one of these entered Jesus. Ridiculous, you think? No more so than the ridiculous thoughts of our day. Jesus the example. Jesus the “son” of God in the sense that we are all sons and daughters of God, goes the liberal drivel. Maybe a womanizer. Maybe a lowlife. A liar. A scam artist.
There now. The genius of human wisdom can reduce Jesus to a zero – with little or no scholarship – and thus safely, or so it thinks, ignore His Words: “You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24)
The world is evil and sin has made it so. Why doesn’t someone step up and say those words when we have all these killings and disasters and people hating one another? Because that is too simple, and anyway, everyone has their own thoughts and are not afraid to express them. God help us!
The world is going to be in the world in their unbelief. What is before us is: What are we going to do with Him? Who is this Jesus? On this day, Peter seems to know. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
God the Son Who is God in the flesh. He comes to pay for every sin and secure eternal life for those who believe. Human wisdom will never, ever make this reasonable to sinful thinking. Listen carefully: It’s a matter of faith. Hebrews reminds us: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1) That is what brings us here: faith. Saved by grace through faith, say Paul. The greatest miracle you could ever receive in this world and you possess it.
Jesus accepts Peter’s confession of faith at face value. Not a word is disputed. God put these words into Peter’s mouth. The Lord then says, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Please hear this: Jesus is not building the church on this smart theologian Peter. If he was, he would have said, “Upon you I will build my church.” The church of Jesus Christ is not to be built either on a man or on the confession of a man, but on the saving revelation of God’s grace in the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This is not Peter’s church; it is the Lord’s church. Christ is the builder. He builds His church so solidly on the Gospel revelation of his grace that all the forces of hell, huffing and puffing combined, will never destroy it!
What are we doing with Him? This prayer request came across the desk of one of the Pastors at my home church in Decatur. It stated: “She thought she had allergies and sinus problems and whamo! She has cancer in her sinus, colon, gall bladder, numerous other places. She had gone to Barnes, St. Louis, but they are sending her home tomorrow and she will be on hospice.”
Life can do a U-turn just that quick. No plans for next year’s vacation or birthdays or…whatever. Just the reality of what this world is and our need of God’s love through Christ. The Holy Spirit guides and lifts us through the sacred Word and Sacraments. Allows our faith in Him to grow and prosper in spite of the mud and crud that people want to throw in our face. Peter had his challenges after this wonderful confession. We too will have ours. We will prevail through “Christ, the Son of the living God.” Amen.