Friday, September 30, 2016

Who Do the Crowds Say that I Am?

Let yourself enter this scene.

The apostles are gathered around, maybe there's a small fire, the night might have a slight chill.  They're sharing the remnants of bread and fish.  I imagine there is some laughter, celebrating over the wonders they have been witness to.  They have just seen five thousand people feast on five loafs and two fishes.  They've been filled by a miracle of God.  They have been present at the calming of the storm and the healing of an official's daughter.

And as their joyful chatter subsides for a brief moment, Jesus says, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" 

The day had been so long.  We were tired, yet filled with an excited energy.  Jesus preached, we listened and the crowds gathered.  With all that we have seen to this point, I... we still had our doubts.  The day was growing toward evening.  The time was getting short for all these people to return to the shelter of their homes.  They were hungry.

Jesus fed them with his word, the words of God.  He nourished their spirits, but their flesh craved something to eat, nourishment to fill their stomachs.  We expressed our concern. "You feed them," he said.  And that's when the most recent miracle occurred.

Now, as the darkness is upon us, Jesus asks us a confusing question. "Who do the crowds say that I am?"

"John the Baptist," one of my brothers says. "There are those in the crowd who repented of their sins when John called to them into the Jordan.  They were greatly saddened by his death at the hands of Herod.  They say that his spirit is reborn in you."

Jesus neither frowns or smiles.  He waits for the speaker to finish and keeps silent, knowing another voice will fill the empty void.

"Some say Elijah or one of the prophets," the expected voice speaks.  I hold my tongue and notice that Peter does the same.

"But who do you say that I am?"

A long moment of silence follows his question.  If Jesus is proclaimed to be a great man, or a teacher with authority, the utterance would be acceptable to most.  If we state he is a prophet, does that threaten those in control, those who govern our faith.  We have treated the prophets harshly in the past, sometimes to death.  But Jesus is more.  He is so much more a prophet voicing God's word.  I know we all believe this to be true.  We have seen works only God could perform and heard words only God would utter.  Yet we still hold tightly to our doubts, afraid to speak what is in the depths our hearts.

After peering into the eyes of the gathering, Peter turns his face toward the fire.  He is our anointed leader.  We look to him for strength.  For a moment he simply gazes into the flame.  I watch the light flicker against his face.  After a deep breath is taken by all his eyes focus on Jesus. "You are the Christ, the messiah, the one we have been waiting for."

The burden falls off our shoulders.  We are free to proclaim the Son of God, despite any repercussions.  Peter is the rock upon which faith in Jesus will be built.

copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr 

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