Blessed… And On This Rock

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,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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