Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20, Common English Bible).
“I tell you that you are Peter.” It is the moment that Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter. It is a name with a simple meaning, “Rock” or “Rock Man.” It sounds like a good strong name but if we spend any time reading about Peter you know he isn’t much of a rock or a rock man, though he did start to sink like a rock out on the water when he took his focus off Jesus.
“And I’ll build my church on this rock.” This is our real focus today. What exactly was Jesus talking about here? There are scholars who make the argument that Jesus and the disciples were literally standing on a rock and that this is the rock Christ planned to build His Church on. Such could be the case but I don’t think so. Remember, the church of Jesus Christ isn’t a building. The Church is made up of the faith of believers and these believers are all over the world.
So, was Jesus talking about Peter? Really? Peter? Peter whose faith wavered and he started to sink? Peter who threw a temper-tantrum in the Upper Room because he didn’t get to sit where he thought his position and status dictated? Peter who would deny knowing Jesus are Christ was arrested? Peter who ran from the Romans? Really? Do you really think it is Peter?
The truth is, we aren’t any better than Peter. Our faith can waiver. We can throw our spiritual tantrums when we don’t get our way. We often deny Jesus by the things we say and the things we do. The same truth also says, the remaining ten disciples were no better at these things than Peter either. The idea that the Church could be built on a human is really pretty ludicrous.
So what else could it be. Well, I think it has more to do with Peter’s faith statement. It was one of the first real professions of faith. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The Church, in every generation is made up of people who make the same confession as Peter. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is a statement where we profess our faith in Him.
For much of history, the rock has been a symbol for strong faith. I have come to understand that the real rock, the real strength of the Church is the faith statements of its people. We live out being the Church because of the real faith that exists within us, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
What is your “rock” statement?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved