Who do you say I am? Feast of the chair of St Peter -Matthew 16: 13-19
The confession of Peter, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”, seems all too easy an answer, given the question if asked today, to you and me. But did Peter fully fathom what he answered? For Jesus says to Peter, ‘flesh and blood has not revealed it to you but my Father in heaven’. So did Peter get it right by himself or was he just prompted by God? Did he fully understand who the Messiah was ?
How do we know when God is speaking to us? How can we be sure that the voices we hear in our head are not simply the chatter of our minds reflecting our own wishes; mere ‘flesh and blood’ responses? How did Peter know what to say when the other disciples got the answer so wrong?
To understand the word ‘Messiah’ as being uniquely attributed only to Jesus would be as fallacious as to understand that Jesus was the only one crucified in history; yet many Christians believe so. Crucifixion was perhaps the most brutal public execution carried out by the Romans and Jesus was one of the thousands put to death in this fashion. The same understanding must be applied to the meaning of the word Messiah; it would be sentimental to insist that this word must exclusively apply itself to Jesus.
In time, this word Messiah has crystalized in the mind of the modern Christian to be attributed exclusively to Christ, though we would use it loosely to describe a person who comes to our aid in time of great need. First century Judaism understood ‘mashiah’ meaning ‘anointed one’, to be anyone; from prophet, to warrior or king.
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