Who is Jesus?
The Son of Man, the Son of God, the Son of Mary and Joseph, the Messiah, our brother, the second person of the Trinity, a healer, a teacher, a travelling preacher, an exorcist, a servant, a master, a rabbi, a good man, an obedient son, one who responds to faith, one who trusts God, one who obeys God, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, a man in the type of Moses, a Jew, one who welcomes the marginalized, the poor, women, children, tax collectors, lepers, a historical man, divine, human, a man of compassion, our savior, one who prays, …
Over the past couple years we have been intentionally learning through our Gospel readings who Jesus is and through Jesus who God is. In today’s reading from Matthew Jesus asks his disciples that very question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” It is interesting to note that in Mark Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” Matthew has Jesus calling himself the “Son of Man” interchangeably with “I” which is confirmed when in Matthew Jesus repeats the question to his disciples and asks, “But who do you say that I am?” In calling Jesus “the Son of Man” Matthew is saying that Jesus is a human-being and that he is talking about Jesus’ earthly ministry and probably foreshadowing Jesus’ future role as judge after his resurrection.
People are wondering if Jesus is the return of John the Baptist from the dead or perhaps Elijah who it was believed would return before the Messiah appeared or if Jesus is a prophet, but Simon Peter declares that “[Jesus is] the Messiah, the Son of the living God”, much more than a prophet. Jesus agrees that this is true and asserts that this was revealed to Peter by God and not by a mere human-being. Jesus then tells his disciples not to repeat this to any one because they cannot fully understand what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In the following chapter in Matthew we have the story of the transfiguration which we heard about earlier this month. At the transfiguration, God confirms that Jesus is the Son of God when, “from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”” just as the voice from heaven did at Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. Following Jesus’ baptism the devil challenges Jesus’ belief that he is the Son of God when the devil says “IF you are the Son of God”, but Jesus trusts God and believes in his mission.
When Jesus is crucified and hanging on the cross he is taunted and mocked, how can he save others when he cannot save himself?
“Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’”” MT 27:38-44
Jesus is vindicated with his resurrection. God supports Jesus. Jesus speaks for God. Jesus reveals God. Jesus is following God’s will even if the people do not understand or believe it to be so. By the end of the Gospel according to Matthew Jesus has been given full authority in heaven and on earth by God and identifies himself with God commanding the disciples to go to all the world teaching them all that they have learned and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” MT 28:18-20
While Jesus’ mission was to the lost sheep of Israel as we learned last week with the story of the Canaanite woman, the disciples’ mission now is to all nations. And so we believe the disciples’ mission is now our mission, to go to all people sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, teaching them all things as we have been taught and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit as we promise in “The Baptismal Covenant”.
Turning to page 304, let us say together “The Baptismal Covenant”…