To be strictly silent about Christ is not very evangelistic. Why, then, does Jesus instruct his disciples to keep quiet regarding his identity? The disciples will eventually be Christ’s witnesses to the whole world, but they have not yet fully witnessed Christ, so they don’t understand that he must die. Even today as Christ’s witnesses we must at times silently live a Christlike life so God can show the world the meaning of the Messiah. Jesus is about to do just that. Talk is always cheap by comparison.

Jesus is to be crucified on a Roman cross, a public event the Jewish leaders would not have wanted to happen during Passover. Yet the Messiah willingly offers himself as a sacrifice for humanity, as the ultimate Passover Lamb. In this case, not telling people that Jesus is the Messiah helps avoid awakening death-dealing forces before their appointed time.

Still, we wonder about all the gates-of-hell and keys and binding-and-loosing language. Yet Jesus clearly says, “I will build my church.” The context of Peter’s confession reveals that this passage unveils Christ's messianic mission. The complete and utter victory of heaven over hell is at hand, and Christ's church will be on the front lines.

God shares God’s all-important kingdom building work with faith-filled humans professing Jesus as Christ. Peter later takes up the idea in his letter: “You yourselves . . . are being built up . . . to be a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5, esv).

The messianic mission might not be announced in your Sunday bulletin or talked about at your church fellowship dinner this week, but it is nonetheless a reality—one that hinges on Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ.”

Jesus, I want to stand with Peter and your holy church today and always. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 16:13-20

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Lectionary Week
August 17–23, 2020
Scripture Overview

Genesis now introduces a painful turn in the story of God’s people. The Israelites are forced into slavery; yet amid this dark time, a baby boy, Moses, is born. God has already begun the story of their deliverance. The psalmist recognizes that the Israelites would be overwhelmed and swept away without the help of the Maker of heaven and earth. Paul gives the Romans two specific instructions: First, they should be changed so that they follow God’s ways, not the world’s. Second, they must understand that they all need one another. Each child of God has a part to play in the overall body of Christ. In a famous passage in Matthew, Peter makes the basic Christian confession: Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 1:8–2:10. How can you serve in a priestly role?
Read Psalm 124. Reflect on the many ways God has blessed you and your community. Consider writing your own song of ascent.
Read Romans 12:1-8. What part of yourself are you holding back from God? How can you bring your whole self to your faith?
Read Matthew 16:13-20. Why do you think it is important to fully understand Christ’s identity before witnessing to Christ’s mission?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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