As part of Lent this year, I am reading through the gospel accounts leading up to Holy Week. I began with Matthew 16, right before Jesus predicts his own death for the first time. I love this passage where Peter affirms that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God. I love how thrilled and blessed Jesus was with Peter’s response. But today as I read on, I realized his next words were in response to Peter’s words about him.
“Who do people say I am? (Go ahead, I can take it!) But who do you say I am?”
And then seconds later, he offers this affirming response to Peter: “That’s awesome, Peter! I know that only God could have revealed this to you (thank you for your courage and honesty). And I tell you that you are Peter . . . ”
This just blessed me as I read this morning, a picture of two friends affirming one another. One asking for honest words from the other (that alone is huge: how often do we ask our friends to tell us truth). The other responding with truth. And being offered honest and affirming words in return. Of course, shortly thereafter, Jesus has some pretty harsh words for Peter, but based on their previous conversation, it seems that their relationship was grounded in honesty and truth and Peter was able to absorb even those hard words of rebuke from Jesus.
Honesty and affirmation. Aren’t these things we all are in deep need of? And aren’t we all equipped to offer these simple gifts to one another?