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Matthew 16:13-20

Who do you say Jesus is?

A friend? A brother? A lover? Redeemer, Emmanuel, Logos, Messiah? When you talk about Jesus how to you refer to him? What language do you use? And what does it say about your relationship to Jesus?

I wonder about this because I think that who we say Jesus is, is completely related to how we tell the story of our faith, how we encourage or discourage people to check out our churches. And I think it is important to consider as we build this community.

What is the story that we tell?

Some have written that when Jesus says to Simon Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”; they are talking about the faith the Peter has. It is on Peters’ faith in who Jesus is, that Jesus will build the church.

Peter’s response to Jesus questions are simply, ‘You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.”

It is on Peter’s faith in THIS statement about who Jesus is that the church is built (at least in theory) and it’s a theory that I find pretty convincing. So who we say Jesus is, is really important because it shapes our response to Jesus.

Who we say Jesus is shapes our response to the Gospel and each other.

I want to suggest some examples of how these names might look but they are not exhaustive and they are not definitive. And I want to hear your thoughts on these names too.

If I say Jesus as friend denotes for me a responsive relationship. Equals in a relationship. We listen to one another, care for each other, sometimes disagree and argue with each other.

If I say Jesus is Lord, that says something different. I follow a Lord, it suggests a very different power dynamic. The Lord sits above and those who serve The Lord do as they are asked and The Lord takes care of them.

Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, suggests God here. Jesus as God in human form among us.

Jesus as Redeemer, who saves us from (I think) ourselves because humans want to be good, but are easily distracted by greed or power or any number of other things.

Jesus as Logos or Word. God’s word made real.

Each of these shapes our worldview and we might use different names depending on how we feel, on our experience, on the things we learned in church or in Sunday school, but they are incredibly important. Who we say Jesus is, how we talk about Jesus can depict a particular way of thinking.

As we gather here each Sunday evening, you are invited to help us complete the reflection on the readings by adding in your own thoughts, what you have heard, your point of view.

The reflections that we have are not all the same. What I hope for is the possibility of coming together with you to hear what you think and what you hear…what God is saying to you and to us through you.

Just as our names for Jesus are different, personal reflections on the gospel are too. They’re based on your experience; your readings, teachings, prayer, personal reflections. Let’s hear each other and prayerfully add to it with a ‘yes, and…’.

I hear that this is your name for Jesus, and this is mine…

I think if we are clear, particularly as we build this congregation, about who we say Jesus is for us at least right now, that will shape how we are together. It is on our faith, the faith of each of us in Jesus Christ and our ability to name it that we build this church. I think it is based on our relationship with the divine that we are even coming into this place; our maybe solid, maybe searching, maybe wanting of a relationship. And I want us to talk about that: to listen to one another, to respond to one another, to think together about these names for Jesus and how we profess them not just here but once we are sent and walk back out through those doors.

We might not all be in the same place. In fact I think we cannot be. Jesus might be someone different for each of us. But it says something about your faith and it enriches our community. And I think it’s really important for us to talk about it here, with each other, to respond to the Gospels together.

So, who do you say Jesus is?