Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
I'm not preaching this week as my church is in the middle of a summer worship rotation. However, here are some thoughts on this passage that I find intriguing.
Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" and then, "Who do YOU say that I am?" Jesus calls us continually to examine who God is to us, in light of and despite what the world says. It's important to note that our earliest understanding of Jesus came through the filter of what we heard, saw and experienced through others. (The world) Someone had to teach us about Jesus, and most likely we adopted (at least temporarily) their version of who Jesus is.
Hopefully, as we grew in our faith, we developed our own understanding of who Jesus is to us. But again, that was due to opening ourselves up to new ideas from others.... from the world. In light of those influences, we formed a belief system that works for us. We took some ideas and put them into our version of "God; The Owners Manual" and we edited out the rest.
I would wager though, that the thought of Jesus standing in front of us, face to face, and asking "What do you believe about me?" would cause at least minor angst among even the most devout followers. We would want to make sure that what we say to Jesus about who He is, lines up with what He wants to hear. (Is what I believe "right?") I expect the angst was no less for Peter.
Perhaps it wasn't so much what Peter said ("You are the Messiah, son of the living God") but that Peter was willing to once again "get out of the boat" and answer when Jesus called. Perhaps that is the only answer Jesus is ever looking for. That we can come to him without fear of having the wrong interpretation, or the wrong slant on Christianity, or the wrong theology, or the wrong faith. That we can get past our 'flesh and blood' response to hold back in case we mess up, and let someone else answer first. And that we can let him ammend, gently correct, or even radically change our view of who he is and who he can be in our lives.
That kind of faith is what the church was built on. And no force of hell can come against it.