“You are the Messiah” says Peter. The Hebrew word Messiah is translated into Greek as “Christ”, so Jesus Christ is Jesus the Messiah and in English they both mean “the anointed one”.
So Jesus was the anointed one, the chosen one – but chosen to do what?
In the mainstream Jewish worldview the role of the Messiah was to defeat all of Israel’s enemies and set their people free and establish a perfect and free society where all of Israel would flourish – an earthly paradise. This kingdom would necessarily have to be established by force as people like the Romans were not about to lay down their arms and leave just because someone asked them to do so.
The Christians took this concept and in Jesus saw a magnification of that initial vision that encompassed the whole world.” God was in Christ reconciling the whole world to himself” as Paul so eloquently put it in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 5:19)
So the scope and vision was expanded from the Jewish Nation to the whole world and again Paul expands this to include the entire creation. Again in Romans (8:21-22) Paul writes “because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail until now”
So every Rock, flower, and animal is also included in this cosmic salvation. And in that same verse that talks about the world also being saved we note that the content of this salvation is also explained.
Salvation means being set free from our bondage to decay and obtaining the glorious liberty of the children of God. This is so because we believe that Jesus died and was raised to everlasting life.
The resurrection was God’s resounding “YES” to Jesus and “NO” to the powers of this world but also a promise, a sure and certain hope that because Jesus was raised we too will be raised. This overcoming of death was and is the cornerstone of the new religion.
We are set free from our bondage to decay. The limits to our lives have been lifted. Instead of existing between the parameters of birth and death we affirm the word of the Lord to Jeremiah that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and in the resurrection we have the offer of everlasting life. As Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross “This day you shall be with me in paradise” Our lives are written against an infinite horizon. Our lives are bound up, linked to the living and active God who loves us as a Parent loves a child. This is freedom, real freedom, and therefore true salvation.
One of the most liberating things that one of the Monks at Mirfield ever said to me is that for us, salvation is not something always just out of reach, something you have to strive for and grasp after – salvation is the very ground on which we stand. It informs our life, our thinking and our actions. We are saved, we know it and walking on that ground we are truly free.
Knowing that and believing that is so life changing, so liberating that Jesus coined a new phrase by likening this revelationt to being born again. Born again to a new life, a new hope, a new way of looking at the whole of creation.
And all of this was recognised, if only partially by Peter at the source of the river Jordan at Caesarea Philippi. That the revelation happened at the source of that life giving stream that gives the water of life to the nation of Israel is also highly symbolic.
The ground, the rock, on which we stand is that “sure and certain hope” and this is the base from which we live our lives as Christians.