Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Who do you say that I am?

At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
- Mark 8:33

"Who do people say that I am?" This is a question posed to the disciples by Jesus on the road to Caesarea Philippi, and their answers vary from John the Baptist to Elijah to one of the prophets. "But who do you say that I am?" Jesus then asks. St. Peter is quick to proclaim, "You are the Messiah." Jesus then begins to teach openly of his coming rejection by the Jews, his passion, death and resurrection. St. Peter then took Jesus aside and rebuked him for this to which Jesus turned and rebuked St. Peter with the above statement. In this passage of scripture we see the dichotomy of human beings, that of humility versus pride.

First we see St. Peter proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. St. Matthew goes as far as quoting Jesus as saying that St. Peter was blessed for this proclamation because this was a revelation from God alone. It is only by God's grace that we can know that Jesus is the Christ. It is not possible to come to this conclusion through human faculties alone.

In the second part we see Jesus rebuking St. Peter and calling him Satan. Is it because suddenly St. Peter has become evil? No. It is because St. Peter is using his human faculties and understanding to rebuke Jesus for talking about his passion, death, and resurrection and thus rejecting God's plan for salvation. St. Peter is no longer relying on God's grace for understanding but attempting to understand using human reasoning, and this human reasoning leads him to logically reject the suffering of the Lord, his friend.

Jesus asks each and every one of us the same questions: Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am? The answer seems simple enough for us today, however, the answer still requires us to respond to God's grace. It requires discernment. If we are attuned to God's grace, we can then and only then answer truthfully, "You are the Christ! The Son of the living God!"


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