O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
defend your Church from all false teaching
and give to your people knowledge of your truth,
that we may enjoy eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed be the Lord my rock,
who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle;
My steadfast help and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield in whom I trust,
who subdues the peoples under me.
O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them;
mere human beings, that you should take thought for them?
They are like a breath of wind;
their days pass away like a shadow.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 9.18-22
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
This is the word of the Lord.
Yesterday we reflected on Herod’s curiosity, today we see the unswerving faith of Peter. Yesterday we thought about the difference between curiosity and commitment, today we revisit that same issue, but from a different perspective. Yesterday we heard of Herod trying to see Jesus, today we are with the disciples who are spending most of their time in Jesus’ presence. However, we are still seeing hesitation, even uncertainty.
Jesus is in prayer, that is Jesus is putting himself in a place of intimacy with his Father in heaven. As Jesus is close to his Father, so his disciples are physically close to him. And then Jesus asks: Who do the crowds say that I am? If we pause at this moment in the story, we can imagine the reverie and calm of the disciples being abruptly interrupted by Jesus’ challenging question. We have heard of Jesus’ mission for his disciples and Herod’s uncertainty. In his unexpected question Jesus is drawing these threads together: Who do the crowds say that I am?
At this point we have to be observant to fully understand what is going on in today’s reading. The disciples gave Jesus the same answers as had occurred to Herod. Again we hear talk of a resurrected John the Baptist, of Elijah, of the ancient prophets. Yes, they are answering Jesus’ direct question, but not one of them can bring themselves to say: The crowds are saying this, but we know different! It is not until they are challenged directly by Jesus that Peter finally speaks up, saying that Jesus is: The Messiah of God.
We are all guilty of relying on human, rather than divine wisdom. Human wisdom causes us to doubt the reality of all the evidence we have concerning the divinity of Jesus. How else do we explain Jesus’ counter-cultural teaching, miraculous healing and inexplicable signs of power? It is so much easier to apply human wisdom than to accept the obvious; much less challenging to be ‘realistic’ than to accept the divinely obvious.
This week we have examined our response to God’s call. Today we are challenged to decide whether we are with the crowd or with Peter?
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to the Father, who has called us to follow Christ in all things.
Empower your Church to follow Christ in all things, courageous to face the hard demands of the Gospel. Keep your people from idle gossip and evil speaking, that the purity of their witness shall not be corrupted.
Fill with the love of truth those who influence the minds of others. Give to journalists and broadcasters the desire to make known the good as well as the bad, and to avoid anything that can mislead the innocent.
We pray for all who are suffering from slander and false accusations; for those unjustly accused through malice or error. Give courage to those who are called to witness to their faith in peril and persecution.
Guard our speaking as we meet with others. Shield us in our families and in all our relationships from hasty words and disregard of truth.
We pray that the souls of the departed who loved this world too much may be pardoned in the Kingdom where true joys are to be found. May no evil report harm the memory of those who are at rest.
As those who trust in Christ, the true Messiah, we pray in his name.
Prayer for the week
you have taught us to pray to you as ‘Our Father’:
help us to see the world through your eyes,
and to love our neighbours with your love.
Show us how we can share with them
the knowledge and joy of our faith,
that they may be brought closer to you,
and enjoy the perfect freedom of your kingdom.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and our God.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
I will not boast in anything,
no gifts, no power, no wisdom;
but I will boast in Jesus Christ,
his death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from his reward?
I cannot give an answer;
but this I know with all my heart,
his wounds have paid my ransom.
Stuart Townend (b. 1963)