The scripture reading for today is Matthew 16:13-19
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[a] the Son of the living God.” 17 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. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[b] and on this rock[c] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 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.”
NOTE: According to Howard W. Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, this passage was the first Bible passage translated by Luther. It was from the Latin Vulgate, for a sermon on June 29, 1519, when he was in Leipzig for a “Disputation” with the Vatican’s Johannes Eck. It appears only in Matthew. Jesus seems to speak most often about what he is not, yet it seems likely that Jesus’ followers must have asked him who he was and how he understood his ministry.
Last night I visited with a good friend in the hospital. Our two-hour conversation covered the waterfront of topics and timeframes. The first words out of his mouth were “I think I’m going to hell. Am I going to hell?” He had been combing through the Bible, reading and re-reading all the verses he could find that spoke about hell.
It was tough to hear about his pain and struggles throughout childhood. It was tough to hear him focus on all that he had “not” accomplished. It was tough to hear his regrets … how he had not loved enough, been good enough, given enough, forgiven enough.
Yet when the conversation turned and focused on God with us now … and the promise of unconditional grace and love … a quiet peace came over him. When we focused on Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the living God … he smiled. When I made the sign of the cross on his forehead over and over and over again so that he would remember his baptism and the many Ash Wednesday services of confession, cleansing, and renewal … he squeezed my hand. He believes Jesus Christ is his Savior!
When I got home and ready for bed, I prayed to God. I prayed for my friend. I prayed for peace … “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7-9
Dear God, thank you for your never-ending grace and peace which surpasses all understanding. Thank you for guarding our hearts and minds. In your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
Debbie Schroeder-Saulnier email@example.com
Prayer Concern – Those who struggle with the forgiveness our Lord promises us.