Good morning! Today, I want to start off with a question. How many of you have ever been called by the wrong name? Raise your hand if this has every happened to you. Maybe your mom or dad called you by your brother's or sister's name. I have a friend named Susan who has four sisters. Her mother used to call her and she'd sometimes go through everybody else's name before she got to Susan's--"Julie, her, Abby, I mean Carol, no, Kaitlyn, um, Sammie, no, SUSAN! Will you come here a minute, please, Susan?" Sammie was the dog.
Sometimes people don't just make a mistake with our name, but they get us totally confused with someone else. Identical twins have this happen all the time. But maybe it's been a while since you've seen some friends of your parents', say, and you've grown a lot, so they get you mixed up with your older brother or sister. Or maybe you just look a lot like someone you've never even met and a stranger comes up and starts talking to you like you're old friends. They have you confused with another person!
I was in the grocery store by myself one time, and a little child about two years old came up to me and latched on to my leg. He was sure surprised when he looked up and saw that I wasn't his mother (father)!
One time, Jesus was traveling with his disciples, and while they walked, Jesus asked them, "Who do people say that I am?" Jesus knew that the public might be confused about him. Stories were getting around about Jesus--that he healed the sick; that he argued with the religious leaders; that he understood things about the Scriptures and God that people twice his age didn't know. Folks must have been wondering, "Who is this Jesus, anyway?"
The disciples shared some of the guesses they had heard others make. "Some say you're John the Baptist. Others think you're Elijah and still others think you're one of the prophets." Then Jesus asked what he really wanted to know. "But who do you, my disciples and closest friends, say that I am?" he asked. Peter knew the right answer. He said, "You are the Messiah sent from God."
Then Jesus began to teach the disciples what it meant for him to be the Messiah, the One sent to save the people from their sin. He told his friends that he would need to suffer pain and rejection. He told them he would be killed, and after three days, he would rise again. Being God's chosen Messiah was not an easy job! It wasn't all healing and miracles and good times. There were going to be some really hard times ahead, too.
Peter didn't like what he was hearing. He pulled Jesus aside and started to argue with him. "No, Jesus! This couldn't happen to you! You've been chosen by God!"
But Jesus cut Peter off and told him that he wasn't looking at the big picture. The hard times were a necessary part of God's plan. Being Jesus, and being a disciple of Jesus would not always be easy, but Jesus promised that faithfulness would always be worth it.
Jesus knew who he was. We know who we are, too. We are his disciples. We are Christians.
Let's Pray. Dear God, we thank you for Jesus and his willingness to suffer for our sakes. Give us the strength and courage to be his faithful disciples when it's easy and when it's not so easy, too. Amen.