“But you,” he asked, “who do you say that I am?” To this Peter replied, “You are the Christ.”
when push finally comes to shove
there are no more approximations
available to be hauled out
no longer is it who we are like
but who we are alone
in our wilderness
through our testings
our retreat response
affirms a rocky core
you are I am
I know for I am you
together we’re beyond either
wider than a sectarian Christ
older than a Messiah placeholder
an unqualified Beloved moving on
There is no wiggling out of this question. The Greek here is emphatic—“You, yes you! You must respond!”
The Twelve are being asked about Jesus’ being—his “I AMness”. We all have this about ourself and so it is helpful to know one’s own “I AMness” if you are going to speak of another’s.
Peter is both assertive and cagey in his response. What is recorded as Χριστός (Christos, Christ/Anointed One) stands for the term of the time—Messiah—which is my choice for a translation.
Listen to Sabin75 speak of Messiah and you’ll see how slippery Peter’s response is.
Contrary to popular belief, recent scholarship has shown that there was no single, fixed concept of “the Messiah” within Judaism of the first century. The term, which in Hebrew simply means “the anointed one,” was used variably, both in the Hebrew Bible and in other Jewish writing that were contemporaneous with Jesus and Mark. Within the Hebrew Bible, it is most often applied to a king, but also to a high priest or a patriarch. Isaiah applied it to the Persian king Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to go home to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. In the Jewish writings outside the Bible, the term is variously applied to a teacher, a warrior, and a judge. The Dead Sea Scrolls anticipated the coming of two messiahs, a king and a high priest. In short, one cannot pin the term down to a particular definition but must acknowledge that it was generally used to indicate any figure whom the faith-community saw as God’s representative, someone who was doing God’s work on its behalf.
Don’t lose track of the “warrior” image as there will be continuous testing for Jesus to move in this direction. And don’t forget your own “I AMness”.