Friday, August 22, 2008

Proper 16, August 24, 2008

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

August 24, 2008
Proper 16
Matthew 16:13-20
A Great Confession

We’ve turned the corner. The kids are back in school. We focus now on their individual instruction. So also with the twelve. At Caesarea Philippi Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus takes His disciples out of the country to Caesarea Philippi, a city built in honor of Caesar Augustus. Jesus’ public ministry has come to a close and now He turns to the training of the twelve as He goes to Jerusalem to carry out His mission as Messiah. Let us pray to the Lord…

God of all creation, You reach out to call people of all nations to Your kingdom. As You gather disciples from near and far, count us also among those who boldly confess Your Son Jesus Christ as Lord.”

When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter was the spokesman — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” According to the account there was no hesitation in answering. Peter did not say, “Let us think about it for a while.” His reply was spontaneous and immediate.

This indicates that God gave Peter the insight and put the words in his mouth. It was so great and true that Peter could never have thought up the answer in so many words if he had a year to consider the answer. Jesus acknowledged the correctness of the answer and told Peter that God HAD revealed it to him. Man on his own and in his weakness cannot know or understand the true identity of Jesus. The Lord Himself must reveal the truth of His Son. Today we consider Peter’s great confession of faith.

Outline: What God said through Peter.

1. Jesus is His Son — The Father and the Son they share the same nature. Peter expressed the opinion of the disciples, “You are the Christ.” This was an insight and understanding into the true nature of Jesus that Peter did not think up by himself. He had help from above. This key truth was revealed to him by God.
Man by himself cannot fathom the truth or the significance of Jesus as Son of God. Even today the person who confesses Jesus as the Christ does it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only God knows who Jesus is, and He reveals this to us.

We can answer the question only through the intervention of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit’s means are Word and Sacrament brought to the troubled heart of the sinner. The saving faith freely given by God leads each one of us to confess: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

God revealed who Jesus as to Peter. Such understanding was not transmitted from one person to the other as secondhand information. One who is infinitely greater than flesh and blood revealed the identity of the Messiah to Peter.

Today, the faithful of God continue to confess, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him…” through Word and Sacrament, Christ, the Son of the Living God, is ever revealed to mankind. “But the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel…”

2. Jesus is the Messiah — He is our Redeemer, the Savior: This speaks of Jesus’ nature and work. He who has keys has power and authority. It is the power and authority to lock or to unlock. The keys are to the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, or salvation. To enter the kingdom is to be forgiven of sins. It is an awesome responsibility and privilege. To whom are the keys given?

In this case, they were given to Peter as the representative of the disciples, the church. Christ through the church gives the keys to His disciples. What are these keys? Are they not the Word and sacraments through which the grace of God is received?

Yet, the pastor does not exercise these keys in a vacuum or by himself. They are given to be distributed publicly on behalf of God’s people. It is given on behalf of the members of our Friedheim family. The source of our confession and our actions is the faith God our Father gives us. Because Jesus is the Christ, my sins are forgiven. Because Jesus is the Christ, I am empowered to live a new life. Because Jesus is the Christ, I have the sure certainty of eternal life.

Conclusion: To enter the Kingdom is to be forgiven of sins. It is an awesome responsibility and privilege. To whom does Christ give the keys? He gives them to the church. And what are these keys? They are the keys of forgiveness, life, salvation. Are they not found in the Word and Sacraments through which the grace of God is received?
This Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. To those who believe on His name He gives power to become the children of God and has promised them His Holy Spirit. He offers to us freely forgiveness, life, and salvation. Thanks be to God for this remarkable gift. Thanks be to God for His amazing mercy and grace!

No comments: