The Body of Christ
In the Gospel of Matthew, at chapter sixteen, Peter, one of Jesus’ followers, says an amazing thing.
Jesus asks Peter and the other disciples, he asks them a question: Who do people say that the Son of Man is? Who do people say that I am?
Oh, some say you are John the Baptist risen from the dead. Others say you must be Elijah. Then there are those who say you are Jeremiah or maybe one of the other prophets.
But Jesus then asked, What about you? Who do you say that I am?
Peter is the one who answered him. He stood up and said… He said an amazing thing, extraordinary. He said, You are the Messiah, or the Christ, the anointed one. He answered Jesus saying, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
The Son of God. You, Jesus. You are the Son of the living God, says Peter. Amazing. Extraordinary.
This is an amazing, an extraordinary, thing to say for Caesar…
Caesar Augustus, the Emperor of the
Along these roads, at every one thousand paces, at every single mile, a stone was placed, a marker was set. And just so everyone would know who’s who and what’s what, on each one of these mile markers were carved the worlds: Caesar Augustus—son of god. Mile after mile. Caesar Augustus—son of god.
And stamped on every single coin was an image of Caesar Augustus as the son of god. And statues and temples and inscriptions—everywhere you turned, there was something that would remind you who’s who and what’s what.
Who’s who and what’s what: Caesar Augusts, like a god, like God, ruled pretty much everything. His roads extended from one end of things to the other end of things. Caesar Augustus, like a god, like God, was lord of all, of pretty much all nations and all peoples. Kings and princes all bent their knee to Caesar Augustus.
Caesar Augustus, with his vast army, his glittering legions marching swiftly, was godlike. Caesar Augustus, with his incredible wealth—tons of gold—was like God. Caesar Augustus—son of god.
But Peter… Peter says no. Caesar August is not, is not godlike. Caesar is not like God. You are, says Peter to Jesus. You, Jesus, and not Augustus. You, Jesus, are the Son of God. You are like God. You, says Peter to Jesus, you are God with us. In you and not in Caesar Augustus is God with us.
This is an amazing thing to say, extraordinary, for Jesus… Well, Jesus had very little money if and when he had any at all. He certainly had no army. Jesus had no soldiers. In fact, those who nailed him to the cross, who crucified him, were soldiers in Caesar’s mighty army.
And Peter said to him, to Jesus, he said, You are the Son of the living God. This is an extraordinary thing to say. Amazing.
Extraordinary, amazing. But it is what we say. It is what we say here at Cottage Way Christian Church.
In our church we have no creeds that must be believed and no confessions, no confessions but one. That one confession is Peter’s confession.
When someone comes wanting to be baptized or to become a member of this church, that person stands before all of you and I ask him or her one question: Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? I do. And then I ask all of you that same question and you say that you do, too, that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
We say that Jesus is the Son of God, that God is like Jesus. And we tell each other the stories of Jesus, we sing them over and over to each other, the stories of Jesus and his love. We tell the stories of Jesus and his kindness and compassion for people, how he welcomed even children, how he forgave sinners and ate with them in their homes. We tell the stories of Jesus and of his great generosity, how he fed multitudes, how he gave them all bread.
We say that Jesus is like God and God is like Jesus. Jesus is who’s who. And his kindness and compassion and generosity are what’s what. Jesus is God with us; in Jesus, God is with us.
Here we say that Jesus is the Son of God and not Caesar. Not Caesar, no matter how rich, how many tons of money. Not Caesar, no matter how vast his army, no matter how many swords, however many legions are at his command.
not be conformed, says the Apostle Paul to us.
Now, Paul, he walked those Roman roads, the roads Caesar built. He saw those mile markers. Caesar Augustus—son of god. Do not be conformed to this world, he says to
us here at
Do not be conformed to this world—the world of Caesar—but be transformed by the renewal of your minds. Present yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, not Caesar, so that what is good and acceptable and perfect can be seen. So that you can see and others can see what’s really what, so that the kindness and compassion and generosity of Jesus, of God, can be proven. The will of God proven and true among us.
are the body of Christ, says the Apostle to us here at
Here, riches and wealth, power and influence, do not count. But you do. Here, you count for something. We all do, no matter who we are. Here we find the generosity and compassion and kindness of Jesus, of God. And we count for something here.
are the body of Christ, says the Apostle Paul to us here at
And what we do counts for something, what we do here at
Here we say that Jesus is the Son of God. And this one who Caesar crucified God has raised from death. He is with us, is here and in him, in Jesus, God is with us.