A reflection on Matthew 16.13-20
Enigmatic I suppose that might be a word you’d use to describe him
Intangible certainly, a mystery, undoubtedly.
A man who refuses to be named and labelled,
who refuses to be put in a box,
who refuses to conform to expectations.
So you should have seen their faces when he asked them,,,
‘who do they say I am?’
Now there’s a question.
Not what – it’s always about the relationship
Who am I (to you?)
That should have given them a clue
But no, instead it seems they regurgitate all the gossip of the synagogue.
Some say John the Baptist
Can you imagine it? What were they thinking?
We saw them together, when it all began, at the Jordan River
John was there with him when the heavens opened
When the thunderous voice was heard.
How could he be the one he spoke to that day?
How could he be the one who was not the one?
How could it be?
And then Elijah.
I understand of course the longing for Elijah to come once more
Elijah or Jeremiah – now you see
This is not about what God has promised
This is about a man who makes them uncomfortable
Who speaks like a double edged sword that pierces through their thoughts,
Dividing even bone and marrow with the truth
Unafraid of those in power.
These are the signs of a Prophet.
For thus God says
And thus we squirm,
It seems the greater the power, the more uncomfortable they feel
A voice that proclaims what is right amidst the chaos
A voice that doesn’t fear the power of a King – just a fox,
Or of Religion – white painted gravestones
Or wealth – sell everything.
Uncomfortable you see.
Then came that moment,
Jesus turned to us and said…
But who do you say I am?
Suddenly there was nowhere left to hide.
This was a question that wouldn’t be satisfied with regurgitation
This required a fully digested, absorbed answer, which came from the heart.
The silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
“You are the Christ”
It came from nowhere, surprising even him I think
The others stood open mouthed
The truth that stood in the silence…
sufficient to split mountains
The stillness that surrounded…
A different kind to the awkward silence,
there was a peace about this truth spoken from the heart.
What will be next for he who speaks such words from God
Surely this truth will mean he understands all there is to know
Yet it will be only moments before he will speak the opposite.
In time he will forget, desert, deny.
Eventually, beyond the three long days they will meet again,
The Christ will again speak, on a beach at breakfast
Who do you say that I am?
A question that lingers, a mystery that remains,
Answers given echo through history
Voices ringing round one another always waiting for today’s answer…
Who do you say that I am?
Revd Canon Alison SW Booker