Reflections: St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

Today’s Reading: Matthew 16:13-20

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 4:1-24; Acts 9:23-43

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:16)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It may seem strange that we celebrate the feast of Peter and Paul on the exact same day. After all, they probably didn’t spend all that much time together. After the Damascus road, Paul was jet-setting all over the known world, and not spending a whole lot of time in Jerusalem. So how is it that we end up celebrating both on the 29th of June? 

It’s really about tradition. There is evidence as early as 256 AD that churches were observing the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul together. And that was because it was traditionally thought that Emperor Nero had both of them killed in the city of Rome on the exact same day Paul beheaded and Peter crucified upside down. It is generally believed today that Peter was martyred nearly three years prior to Paul, but whatever the case, tradition runs its course and we can still find ample reasons for celebrating these two pillars of the Church together. For indeed, who is responsible for the proclamation of the Gospel more than Peter and Paul?

In our reading for today we hear Peter’s confession, the confession upon which Jesus would build His Church. And it is within this Church, the universal Church, the Church founded upon the testimony of the prophets and the apostles, that Jesus places the Keys of the kingdom of heaven. Within Her walls we get to hear of the Son of God crucified as the Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Within Her walls we get to receive this Cross of His, dripping from the baptismal font, placed upon paten and chalice, to be wetted and eaten and drunk for life everlasting.

And it is for these reasons that we give thanks to our Lord above who found it meet, right, and salutary to send these two men (and many others) out to proclaim the Good News of Christ crucified for you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your  Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for St. Peter and St. Paul)

-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.

Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.