The Confession of St. Peter and the Ministry of the Gospel
The Confession of St. Peter (St. Mark 8:27-30), along with the Lord’s blessing of that Holy Apostle in response to his confession (St. Matthew 16:13-19), is a pivotal and significant event in the narrative of the Holy Gospel. It is from that point that Jesus began to teach His disciples plainly that He would suffer many things, be rejected by the religious leaders and put to death, and after three days rise again (St. Mark 8:31-32; St. Matthew 16:21). Of course, we know that St. Peter, having made such a beautiful confession of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, almost immediately fell into the satanic temptation and trap of resisting the Cross and going so far as to rebuke the Lord Jesus (St. Mark 8:33; St. Matthew 16:22-23). That turn of events is a humbling reminder that our fallen flesh and human reason are prone to a theology of glory.
Even so, we remember and celebrate the Confession of St. Peter this week (18 January), because it is by the grace of God the Father that we, too, are given to recognize the light of the revelation of the glory of God in the face of the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus, and it is likewise by His Word and Holy Spirit that we confess Him before the world within our respective callings and stations in life. It was especially in the Baptism of our Lord Jesus that the Father revealed Him to be the Christ, the beloved and well-pleasing Son. So, too, it is in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism that we are united with Christ Jesus as the adopted children of His God and Father, anointed with His Holy Spirit for the Life everlasting in body and soul.
For those who are privileged to serve as ministers of the Word of Christ, it is worth remembering and taking to heart that our dear Lord Jesus addressed St. Peter precisely as such a minister, and when He says to him, “Upon this Rock I will build My Church,” He refers to the ministry of his confession. Indeed, it is by the Ministry of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament that Christ Jesus is made known and His Church is established and sustained against sin, death, the devil, and hell. And as the Church depends upon that Holy Ministry, so does the Ministry itself depend, not upon any of us, but upon the grace of God in the Flesh and Blood, Cross and Resurrection of Jesus.