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Identification Verification, Matthew 16:13-20

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Pentecost 13A, Aug 27, 2023

Theme: Jesus the Messiah

When one enters an airport and wishes to apply for a pass to board a passenger jet, the attendant will ask for two items: The ticket you purchased, and identification. Not only do they want to know who you are, they want you to prove it.

The proof would be some kind of photo ID. But not just any ID. It would have to be a passport, or a special type of driver’s license. This document is to not just verify a name, but a place of residence, birthdate, and an ID number to use to look up file data. They want to know credit information, and citizenship.

In this Sunday’s text, Jesus asked his followers to identify him.

Well, Jesus didn’t want them to tell him his name. He wanted to know WHO he was in their eyes.

In the ancient world, you were known for your family history. Popular people were thought to be reincarnations of, or possessed a likeness to, notable relatives from the past. Some of Jesus’ followers mentioned that people thought of Jesus as a reincarnation of John the Baptist, others Elijah. In the case of Jesus, he was known as a Son of King David of old. As for Peter, he was known as a descendant of Jonah.

Then Jesus asked a pointed question. “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Peter spoke up first and answered, “You are the Messiah.”

So, Jesus was identified.

But the question resounds down through history.

It is a personal question.

Jesus asks each of us personally.


The obvious answer is perhaps not the one which really matters. As we answer Jesus’ question, it may be our own identity on the line. To recognize Jesus’ true identity means realizing what he means to us. It is only then that we can truly verify our own true identity.

Worship with us at one of our services this Sunday at First Christian Church in Warrensburg, Missouri as we struggle with this question of what Jesus means to us.

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