Sunday is the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter. Matthew 16:13-17: 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The conviction the Jesus is the Christ and the Lord is an impetus to witness to Him so that others can be brought into His Kingdom. Mercy work is a way of fighting against the principalities and powers that rule this present darkness and to witness to Christ’s dominion of light. Witness and mercy exercises in faith and sharing of faith. The object of mission is to bring others to faith. The object of mercy is witness to faith and help the neighbor.
Luther commenting on this lesson says, “So whoever wishes to learn what faith is and where it comes from, let him pay attention to what Christ here says. “Flesh and blood,” he says, “has not revealed this to you.” He means that this faith is not a human notion that a person can create or conceive by himself. The Father in heaven must grant it. He must ignite the flame in the heart. And what does the Father use for this? He uses nothing else than the Word and his Holy Spirit. This is the one way that a person comes to a recognition of Christ and faith.
Indeed, flesh and blood, that is, our understanding, knows nothing of such things. It is as a candle that one lights at night and it shines just fine. But when the bright day dawns and sunlight bathes everything, the candlelight disappears; it shines and illuminates no more, because the sun is too strong and bright. It is that way with faith. A bright and brilliant light it is, while our understanding is dark in contrast to it. So then whoever wants to say that such a light, superior to all human understanding, ignited in the heart by God alone, is a shriveled, worthless thing, can do so. But we must consider it the highest, greatest work of God, in comparison to which all man’s accomplishments, understanding, and abilities are nothing.
It is important too in this regard, that we do not become secure and cocksure, as if we already had grace in fullest capacity. For one must beseech God daily that through his Holy Spirit he would ignite this bright light in us and keep it ablaze. For the devil takes no holiday and is a bitter foe of this light, rains down on it fiercely and drenches it, and blows and blasts against it on every side, intent on suppressing it and snuffing it out. Therefore we have every good reason to beseech God that he would keep us in good heart and confidence before our dear Lord Christ and graciously protect us from all conflicting thoughts.