November 19, 2019

Who Do You Say I Am?

Matthew 16:13-20

“What about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

—  Matthew 16:15

After a 25-mile (40 km) trip on foot from the Sea of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (see Daniel 7:13). The disciples said they had heard some say he was John the Baptist or Elijah or another prophet returned from the dead.

But Jesus wanted to dig ­deeper: “Who do you say I am?”

They were silent until Simon Peter blurted out the most remarkable statement: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus blessed Simon, saying, “You are Peter” (which means “rock”), explaining that God had given him this new understanding.

A spiritual director once asked me, “If you were Peter, having answered Jesus’ question, wouldn’t you want to ask Jesus what he thought of you?” He sent me off to consider the question. My reflections on this question surprised me: if Jesus blessed Peter for professing what the Father had shown him, then surely he blesses us as his disciples today too.

I served as a chaplain. At the end of every worship service I led, I was privileged to pronounce the benediction, literally the “good word” from God. Through me, God blessed his people. And each time, I heard Jesus whisper, “Blessed are you too, Chaplain. You get to pronounce God’s blessing on our people.” We’re all God-blessed to be God’s blessings, so live today in the blessed assurance that Jesus the Messiah thinks the world of us!

Lord Jesus, what a blessing you are to us! Make us your blessings in this world. For your sake, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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