13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (NIV)
This pandemic has been quite an interesting time for all of us. During this season, we have struggled. We have cried, and we have mourned the loss of what we considered normal. This has created tension within society, and has made us all struggle with who we are. For me, however, it has been a time to find renewed community among people from our church. This community is centered around encouraging each other, praying, and reading the Bible together via Zoom. This little group is the Tuesday night Bible Study.
Recently, dealing with life in this time of uncertainty, I have found a lot of peace in the text of Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus takes his disciples outside of Jerusalem, and when they are very far away, he asks them a deep question. This question throws them off balance. He asks first: "Who do people say that I am?" With this question, Jesus is inviting his closest disciples into an interesting situation by asking them to interpret what others believe about him. Jesus knows that they have heard things, and that they have also been caught in the midst of some of these conversations.
The second time he asks them, he changes the question a little bit. He asks: "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus now engages them at a deeper level, and they begin a conversation about who Jesus is that will change their lives. Peter is the one who nails the answer: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." With this declaration, Peter asserts Jesus' divinity and recognizes him as the true God.
However, what I want to draw our attention to is the process that it took for Peter to speak this truth. Jesus took the disciples outside of Jerusalem, outside of their sacred center. That means that they needed to be away from what they knew and away from what was familiar about God and Jesus. Jesus took them to a place that might seem a bit weird for that kind of conversation.
In the same way, during this pandemic, we are away from what we know. We are away from our conventional ways of worshiping. We are physically distant from each other. We are in uncharted waters, which makes me think that this is the perfect place for that same question. Who do we say that Jesus is? Who do you say Jesus is?
Lord, help us rethink what our faith community can look like. Help us enter the uncomfortable to discover who Jesus truly is. Use this time of not being able to worship in a building to lead us to find true worship. Give us community even though we cannot be physically close to one another.
The Union Church of Guatemala
Leaders & Church Staff
Dr. Ralph Porter
Women's Ministry President