When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. – Matthew 16:13-20
We normally look at people and determine who they are, based upon our misplaced assumptions. Their looks do not make them who we think they should be.
There were two men, one a Caucasian and the other of Chinese descent. One was named Smith and the other was named Lee.
Someone addressing the two men, addressed the Caucasian as Mr. Smith and the Chinese as Mr. Lee. However, this was wrong. Their names were mixed up.
It was automatically believed that the Caucasian should have a European name while the Chinese should have a Chinese name. But the Caucasian was in fact named Lee and the Chinese was named Smith.
In the text, Jesus posed a question to his disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
He asked this question of the disciples not because he was ignorant of what the people were thinking. The disciples were more conversant with the people – therefore, the people would have been free to speak their minds to the disciples rather than to Jesus.
The disciples were quick to answer, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” That was an interesting observation. Now, the question is, what about you? “Who do you say I am?” In other words, you have been with me for a while, what is your opinion of me?
Peter spoke up. He could speak about Jesus because he has experienced Jesus’ compassionate healings. He had eaten bread, which had been multiplied and shared with thousands. The Lord had saved him from ferocious storms and plucked him from sinking while walking on water.
He had an in-depth knowledge of the Lord, therefore, he exclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.”
Following this, Jesus made a profound statement – “on this rock I will build my church”. Jesus was not saying that Peter is the rock upon which the church will be built.
The rock has nothing to do with humanity. Peter did not die for the sins of the world. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 28:16, “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”
Jesus is the rock and the foundation of the church. He is the cornerstone for a sure foundation.
Yes, Jesus is telling Peter that his confession will be the rock on which the church is established.
Jesus is Lord. He is the Christ, the son of the living God. We are baptized into Christ Jesus, the true rock of the church. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; E-mail email@example.com; or website www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.