“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17) This Sunday’s Gospel lesson marks a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. Once Jesus is recognized in his full identity, the story immediately turns to his upcoming passion. Once he is known to be the Messiah, Jesus immediately begins to teach what the Messiah’s mission must be: the Servant who suffers. I’ve always been struck by the two questions that Jesus asks: the first is rather abstract but the second is pointed and the answer to that one reveals much. Because, of course, the way we answer Jesus’ second question not only reveals who we think he is, but also reveals who we are. When we join a United Methodist church we promise to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness! In essence, we promise to answer Jesus’ question publicly in an ongoing manner. So whom do you say? What does your life say about the identity of Jesus Christ? I have to admit that I have my days when my witness would be better kept to myself! On the other hand, beginning with Peter, that has always been the case for Jesus’ disciples. But I also know this, because of his great love and unflagging grace, from time to time and from place to place, I get the answer right. And in those moments, the truth of Jesus shines forth: he is the Messiah; He is the Son of God who takes suffering upon himself and has overcome the world! How about you? Whom do you know in these strange times who needs to recognize the truth of the God who loves them? Have a great week!