Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost 23/08/2020

*IN NOMINE JESU* Pentecost 12, Peter’s Confession, Kaiserslautern EV. Lutheran Church, Pastor Joe Asher, Germany…

Matthew 16:13-20

English Standard Version

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

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, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Today our focus is Peter’s confession of Christ.

Our Lord is one year away from dying on the cross and His Easter resurrection, which means He has been involved in preaching and teaching for two years.  During this time Christ has also done miracles of healing and spiritual warfare against satan and his angels, and our Lord has also raised the dead on two occasions… Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son from Nain. (Luke 7 and 8).

So everyone in Israel and the region knows the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And everyone also has an opinion about His mission and Who He is.

Some are beginning to think He is the Messiah/ Savior.  While others believe He is a great prophet.  But there is also a sizable number who believe Jesus is a phony and a blasphemer Who needs to die.

So our Lord asks the Twelve about the “word on the street” regarding His identity.  Verse 13-

Who do people say the Son of Man is?

And the disciples are quick to respond.  They tell the Lord that some say He is John the Baptist raised again… for by this time Herod had killed the forerunner of Jesus.  Others believed the Savior to be Elijah from Israel’s past, for this great prophet had also raised a boy from the dead. (1st Kings 17)  And still others believed Jesus was Jeremiah, for this significant prophet from Israel’s history had spoken truth to power in the way that our Lord was constantly opposing the error-filled teachings of the chief priests and Pharisees.

The disciples told our Lord that—on the whole—the public opinion about Jesus was favorable, because most believed He was a prophet sent from God.

But the public opinion about Jesus fell short of the truth.

Today, in our modern world, we have much the same problem.  Most people on “our street” of public 

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opinion see Jesus as only a great teacher, or as one who preached about “truth and love.”  And most in our world have the contemporary opinion that we should primarily see our Lord as an example to follow.

  • He loved others, so should we.
  • He forgave everyone, so should we.

But the problem is that these modern street opinions also fall short of the truth.  They are based upon no knowledge of God’s Word, and they embrace a shocking refusal to learn about what Jesus says about Himself.  So this world is in spiritual darkness.  And most people today insist on avoiding the truth about the Savior.

Why?  Why would anyone avoid the truth?

Because if they know the truth, then they will have to respond to the truth by either rejecting it or following Christ as Lord.

It is really about who is in control.  Will it be Jesus?  Or will it be us?

In our lives today, most say they want the truth.  And typically, we all say we want the truth about all kinds of things.

  • We do research on our children’s school
  • We interview teachers
  • We investigate the best car purchase
  • We are wise about cell phones and communication devices, seeking out the features which improve our lives
  • We spend time evaluating the nutritional value of the food we eat
  • And we try to gather data and make solid choices about our career path and financial future

But what surprises me is that so many people choose to remain uninformed about Who God is, and the way to heaven, and the spiritual realities ahead for all of us.  And you often hear people’s shocking ignorance of the Gospel this way-

  • At the end of my life, I hope that God will accept me
  • If there is a God, I try to live a good life… and that should be enough
  • All religions lead to heaven, I just have to be sincere about what I believe

But for you and me, we know that if we are to be saved, then Christ must save us.  And like Peter in our Gospel reading, we need to have faith in Jesus and a clear witness and confession of Him.  Further, the world needs to understand that without faith in Jesus Christ, God’s judgement is real and hell is eternal condemnation.  And the world finally needs to know that without Jesus, there is no payment for sin.

A confession of faith like Peter’s is the only hope for our world.  The Father has revealed Jesus as the Christ… the Savior… and Jesus is confessed as the Son of the Living God Whose mission was to die on the cross as payment for the world’s sin.  And for all who trust Jesus in faith, there is forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life.  This is the GOOD news.

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The Gospel message is the only hope for our world.  And Peter gets it right!  Here is our reading the fisherman apostle supplies the answer that every sinner in this world needs to know and believe.  While the other disciples were silent, Peter boldly declares-

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And then our Savior said three things about Peter’s confession.  First- that Peter is correct.  Second- that the heavenly Father has revealed this truth to him.  And third- that this confession will be the rock/ foundation of the church, and the gates (power) of hell will not prevail against this truth!

When Peter calls Jesus “the Christ,” He is confessing that our Lord is the Messiah, He is “the King,” and also Jesus is “the anointed One” who is the Deliverer and Savior of God’s people.

In Old Testament Israel, when someone was given a position of authority, oil was poured on the head in order to signify that this chosen person was set apart for God’s service.  Kings, and priests, and prophets were anointed throughout Scripture to identify them as servant leaders of God’s people.

On two occasions, the Bible says that Jesus was anointed with oil.  But most importantly, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism in Matthew 3.  Here the Spirit descended upon our Lord like a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven saying…

This is My beloved Son.  With Him I am well-pleased.

Revealed by the Heavenly Father, here in our reading, Peter now recognizes and confesses Jesus in true faith.  The fisherman apostle in that moment and at some level, guided by the Father, “connected the dots” and understood God’s truth about Jesus our Savior.

But what would Christ deliver us from?  Well, John the Baptist gave everyone the answer.  He said, John 1:29-

Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.

Sin is the enemy.  Sin is what condemns transgressors to hell.  So Christ came to deliver us from the reproach and condemnation of our sin.  Sin kills.  By sin came death.  But the gift of God is eternal life through… the Deliverer, through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Now, let’s go back to the rest of Peter’s confession.  The apostle affirms that Jesus is also…

…the Son of the living God.

Again, this understanding is from the Father.  And this lines up with the angel’s announcement at the Lord’s birth when it was announced that the child will be called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.”

So as Peter and the others followed Jesus around during His earthly ministry, they are seeing the acts and miracles of God in the life of the Lord Jesus.  As they listen to Christ, they are hearing the very words of God.  When they walk behind their Savior, they are witnessing the compassion of God.  When Jesus responds to the needs of the people, the desciples are experiencing the mercy of God.  And then at the cross of Calvary, we see the salvation of God in Jesus’ death and Easter resurrection.  This salvation 

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through faith in Christ is for everyone.

And so today, with spiritual darkness all around us, it is absolutely vital that we have our own personal confession that Jesus is Savior before the world.  For Jesus said- Matthew 10-

Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge before My Father Who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father Who is in heaven.

What our Lord is calling us to do is to openly and fearlessly identify Jesus as Savior and Lord before this lost world.  We must never keep it a secret that we are followers of our Savior.  Instead, our lives and our voices are privileged and blessed to declare Christ to everyone.  And our Lord wants us to joyfully communicate the Gospel to all who don’t know Him, so that life and salvation may be received by all who believe.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

+Sola Deo Gloria+

KELC Prayers of the Congregation- Pentecost 12- 8/23/20

Dear Heavenly Father– we thank you for the Confession of Peter, who with great courage declared Your Son Jesus as both Savior and Lord.  We pray that you would also give us courage to confess Christ in every circumstance and situation, for Jesus is both our hope, and the only hope for this world.

Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………..  Hear our prayer.

Blessed Savior, we thank you for the favorable weather you have given us here in SW Germany.  We pray that you would continue to sustain life on this earth through the harvest you continually provide.  Make us truly thankful that out of love for us, You sustain our lives with the fruit of the earth.

Lord in Your mercy………………………………………….. Hear our prayer.

Eternal Holy Spirit, we pray for the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and all people in need.  We ask that by Your blessing you would sustain the lives of all who look to You in faith.

Lord in Your mercy…………………………… Hear our prayer.

Gracious Triune God, as school has begun for many, bless all students and teachers in their vocation of learning and teaching.  Give strength to all, that they may grow in wisdom and understanding in the school year ahead.

Lord in Your mercy………………………………… Hear our prayer.

Finally, heavenly Father, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care.  For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…


Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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