Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Sunday Word

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Our Gospel selection has Jesus turning to the question of his real identity. Jesus and the disciples arrive in "the district of Caesarea Philippi."

So one day he says to his disciples, "Guess who?"

His actual question was, "Who do people say that I am?" What's the buzz about me right now?

The answers given by the disciples are all connected to the prophets, even though most Jewish teachers at the time believed that authentic prophecy had ceased. Still, there was some expectation of a return of the prophets at the end time, particularly Elijah.

Some thought that John the Baptist was an Elijah figure, but when John was executed by Herod Antipas, they began to transfer that idea to Jesus.

Many of Jesus' miracles had seemed to mirror those of Elijah -- raising the dead being the most prominent.

When Jesus announced God's judgment on unrepentant cities and downplayed the central role of the temple, he sounded a lot like the prophet Jeremiah.

But those closest to Jesus began to suspect there was more to him than that. Jesus was more than a prophet; in fact, he was the One for whom they had been waiting. When Jesus asks his disciples the pointed question, "But who do you say that I am?" , it's a question that will not only define who he is but also define the identity of his followers.

Simon Peter answers with confidence, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Simon has examined the evidence and concluded that Jesus is the real deal.