18th April 2023
18th April 2023
Read (Matthew 16v13-20)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
It is impossible to know how many questions we will be asked over a lifetime. Consider even today, "Do you want milk in your coffee?" "How are you?" "Any plans for the summer?" "Did you watch the match?" But I put it to you that the most important question ever asked relates to what you believe about Jesus.
Christ once asked His disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (v13). By way of reminder the phrase "Son of Man" is used by Jesus to refer to Himself. It comes from Daniel 7 where one like a Son of Man was presented to the Ancient of Days "And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7v14)
The responses to the question were positive and varied but also incorrect. Some thought that Jesus was John the Baptist raised again to life. Others wondered if He was Elijah coming to prepare the way for the Messiah. Another group believed Jesus to be Jeremiah coming again to preach to Israel's need for repentance. Additionally some considered Jesus to be another of the prophets of old. Varied opinions. All positive. All wrong.
Leaving the opinions of the crowd behind, Jesus asked His disciples “But who do you say that I am?” (v15). This might seem like a straight forward question for Christ's closest followers but Matthew has already shown us that the disciples didn't yet have a full understanding of Christ and His mission. They called Jesus the Son of God on the middle of the lake (Matthew 14v33) but later took to discussing bread, seemingly missing the point of Christ's miraculous feeding of the thousands.
Nevertheless in response to the Lord's question Peter could not have been more accurate saying “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v16). In just one moment and in a few words, Peter made clear that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah and the Son of God. It was an admission of Peter's sure belief that Jesus was the one sent to redeem His people and a further admission that Christ was divine. This reply wasn't a mere "I think you're great" it was a declaration of the glory and majesty of Christ. He is true God, true man, without sin, the Messiah and the One in whom all must believe.
Peter's confession did not come by accident or by study or by pilgrimage. Jesus said “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." (v17). Peter had come to realise the true nature of Christ because God had opened his once blind eyes to the truth. It remains this way for all sinners. The Scriptures paint a bleak picture of spiritually dead humanity, we read in Psalm 53v2-3 "God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." Thanks be to God for He opens our eyes to the true reality of Christ. This is God's special revelation.
Jesus continued "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (v18). What did Jesus mean? Peter's name means "rock" and in one sense Peter and his fellow disciples would fulfil a foundational ministry in the church. Paul would later write that the church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2v20). But we do not go any further and use this verse to make Peter into the first Pope.
Instead we look to the solid rock of Peter's confession as the truth on which Christ builds His hell defying church. The kingdom of heaven is seen in the visible church here on earth and to the church have been entrusted the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (v19). What are these keys? To the officers in His church Christ has given the Word of God and church discipline. By these means the gates of heaven are opened to all who will believe and they are closed to all who refuse to repent.
Although it was not yet time for the identity of Christ to be proclaimed (v20) we are now in days where the church on earth preaches freely that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The marks of the true church are the preaching of the Gospel, the correct administration of the sacraments and church discipline. Where these three exist there we find the kingdom of heaven and no matter what Satan throws against that kingdom, the church will remain standing.
So today I ask you a simple but vital question - who do you say that Jesus is? May Peter's confession be the rock on which your life is built. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and blessed are those who take refuge in Him.
Q23 What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer? Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.