11 after Trinity

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Readings

Isaiah 51.1-6
Romans 12.1-8
Matthew 16.13-20

Sermon –– ‘Who do you say that I am?’

Hello, I’m Alison Maddocks, the Diocesan Stewardship Officer

Not having had a conventional church upbringing, much of my time at theological college whilst training for ordination, was spent in a state of semi-confusion.  I didn’t have the vocabulary of many of my fellow students and it wasn’t unusual for me to arrive at the first of a series of lectures with very little idea of what they were going to be about.  I remember that ‘Christology’ was one of these occasions.

Little did I realise that it was utterly simple and utterly profound.  Summed up in just one question, the question from today’s gospel, which Jesus asks his closest disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’.

If you, like me, have ever wondered if you are a ‘proper Christian’ this is the question that you need to answer. Jesus begins by asking the disciples, ‘What’s the gossip?  What are people saying about me? Who do they say that I am?’

The disciples are happy enough to answer that question.  It’s a head question, a knowledge question, an interesting enough question.

But the tone changes completely when Jesus asks them, ‘And you, who do you say that I am?’

Now, this is personal, and it needs to be pers  \­­­--     onal for us too.

Who is Jesus to me? 

Who is Jesus to you?

Peter’s reply to the question is ‘You are the messiah, son of the living God’

Too easily we allow these words to just wash over us in a kind of ‘yeah, we know that, kind of way’.

Do we?

Do we know what it means to call Jesus ‘Messiah’?  To call Jesus ‘saviour’ or ‘liberator’

You can only claim Jesus as Messiah, as your Messiah, if you have a sense of what you have been saved or liberated from, if you have a sense that because of Jesus you live in freedom when otherwise you would be a slave.

To what would you be enslaved?  What is it that Jesus liberates you from?  These are questions that can answer for you, and that you need to keep answering on a daily basis.

It can be tempting to say that I am liberated from sin, but what is sin?  To give the answer ‘doing the wrong thing’ sets the bar too low for most of us.  Most of us were brought up to not do the wrong thing and most of the time we manage to stick to this.  Does that mean that we don’t sin?

For me, sin is falling short of the will of God, doing other than that which God would, for my own sake, have me do.  Against this measure I constantly fall short.  Against this measure I am burdened with the constant sense of failure and it is from this that Jesus is my liberator.

My daughter is currently buying her first flat.  Unfortunately, with just a week to go, her first purchase fell through.  She was bitterly disappointed.  Another round of house hunting and she made another offer and that seems to be going ok.  For a couple of weeks, I kept asking her how this or that compared to the one that she had lost until she got fed up of me and said ‘will you please stop comparing’?  I like the one I am buying, it has nothing to do with the other one, let me just get on with it!’

That was mum told!  And of course she was right.  It was a clean slate, what had come before didn’t matter.

So it is with Jesus.  Every day I am the beloved, the one he wants to know, spend time with and encourage into wholeness.  My mistakes of yesterday belong in yesterday.  They might inform today but they don’t belittle today.  The slate is clean.

Jesus is my messiah.  He is the son of the living God, one with God.  He is God and yet visible, understandable, relatable.

Friend, companion, guide, advocate.  Words that slowly, gradually, cautiously I have come to own.

Over time I have come to a greater understanding of what it means to me, personally, to name Jesus as my saviour.  Gradually, I have grown in the sense that I owe him every day, that without his love and healing of me, my life would be diminished to a daily wrestle with the blackness that is the alternative, the blackness of lack of meaning and hope. The words ‘all good things come from you’ flow through me and orientate me.  Every moment of joy and consolation become the song of his presence and every moment of despair and brokenness can be handed over to be restored in hope.

What words do you choose to say to Jesus when he turns to you and says ‘who do you say that I am?’

A Question for Reflection

Who is Jesus to you?

If I asked you who your mother, your spouse or your best friend was to you, I am guessing that you would try and tell me, by telling me what difference they make, or have made, in your life.  My mother was a strong character who expected me to stand up for my views and to be independent, and that has shaped who I am.

What difference has Jesus made to who you are?


Page last updated: 15th September 2020 9:45 AM
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