Posts Tagged With: Messiah

Matthew 16: Who Do You Say I Am?

“What about you?” he asked them.  “Who do you say I am?” (16:15)

This may be one of the most important questions of all time.  Maybe this is the question that all people must grapple with and answer.

For the Pharisees the answer was simple: Jesus was an ally of Beelzebub (12:24), even though all of the signs were there for them to know otherwise, Jesus says in today’s passage (16:3).

For Herod, Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead (14:2 ;16:14).

For the masses, after two miraculous feedings, Jesus was a free meal (14:13ff; 15:29ff).

For some the disciples had talked to, Jesus was another great prophet like Elijah or Jeremiah (16:14).

For the disciples, Jesus enigmatically pushed them past the literal (16:7-12).

For Peter, Jesus was the Messiah . . . but not the right kind.  Jesus was the vanquishing savior here to whip up on the Romans, not die on one of their crosses (16:16, 22).

We grapple with the same question today.  Ask around.  Jesus is a prophet, a wise man, a great teacher, a crazed lunatic, a egomaniacal liar, a carpenter turned revolutionary, a revolutionary turned lover of Magdalene, a hippie, a homosexual, a partier, a beaten up hero in a violent bloodbath, a scapegoat for Jewish nationalism, a healer, a handsome emotionless guru, a meek milquetoast whipping boy, a misunderstood leader, a rabbi, a philosopher of love, a Republican, a Democrat, a Communist, a Capitalist, a vegetarian, a figment of Paul’s imagination, or some other permutation next week when another book, movie or YouTube video comes out.

Albert Schweitzer is famous for saying that the quest to determine who exactly Jesus was, apart from the Bible, is a futile one.  It is like looking down into a well; all we see is our own reflection looking back.  People have a tendency to mold Jesus into whatever we want him to be, and in the end he ends up looking a lot like us or at least what we would like to be.

Looking ahead to the account of the Transfiguration in the next chapter, God will weigh in on the matter:

Then there came a voice out of the cloud. ‘This is my dear son,” said the voice, “and I’m delighted with him.” (17:5)

Still, the question is before us today: “Who do you say I am?”

How do we fashion Jesus after our own image today?

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Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Matthew 2: As The Prophets Said

Blessed Good Friday!

Today is a truly somber day, yet “good” nonetheless because of what it means and what comes on Sunday.  It is an interesting juxtaposition to be reading about the birth of Christ on the day we remember his death.  Though, I wonder if death didn’t remain in the back of Jesus’ mind everyday of his earthly life.  Praise God for his faithfulness!

Four times in this chapter we are told that the events of Jesus’ early life are unfolding as the prophets of old foretold:

  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem because “that’s what it says in the prophet.” (2:5)
  • Joseph took his family to Egypt to flee from the murderous Herod in order to “fulfill what the lord said through the prophet.” (2:15)
  • The “murder of the innocents” in Bethlehem was even foretold: “That was when the word that came through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled.” (2:17)
  • Joseph took his family to Nazareth to settle once Herod the Great had died because “this was to fulfill what the prophet had spoken.” (2:23)

Scholars opine that each of the gospels was probably written to a specific audience, just like the letters were.  Many experts see much in Matthew to suggest that it was intend for a Jewish audience.  The emphasis on fulfilled Jewish prophecy about the Messiah is a key piece of evidence for a Jewish background.

Regardless of theory, this chapter reminds us that Jesus didn’t come out of nowhere as a self-styled Messiah.  He is the one talked about long ago.  He isn’t “new” as much as he is “very old.”  Jesus was no after-thought.  He is the long-desired one.  And he is here.  Now.  God with us.

What struck you about this chapter?

Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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