Read - Matthew 16v13-20
Message - Scott Woodburn
Perhaps the most famous of the Apostles is Simon Peter. When we first meet Simon he is engaged as a fisherman alongside his brother Andrew (Matthew 4v18), sons of their father John (John 1v40). Simon Peter is a married man (Matthew 8v14) and he and his brother had been followers of John the Baptist before they followed the call of Christ.
A library of books have been written about Simon Peter and we could speak about his walking on water, his denial of Christ, his restoration or his argument with Paul but instead we turn to Matthew’s Gospel where we find Simon Peter’s extraordinary declaration of Christ. Many people were speaking about Jesus and asking who exactly he was. Some thought he might have been John the Baptist. Others wondered if Elijah had returned. Others thought Jesus was Jeremiah or another one of the prophets (v14).
“But who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked His disciples. As was so often the case, Simon Peter jumped in first. “You are the Christ” he said “the Son of the living God.” (v16). Simon hit the nail squarely on the head. He had made mistakes and he would again but in that moment he confessed the truth about Jesus. Peter declared that Jesus is the Messiah, the One that he and others have been waiting on. Additionally Jesus is divine. He is the Son of the living God.
Peter is the first of the Apostles to declare such truth and later in his life he will be the first to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. He has received this revelation from God Himself (v17) and in the days after the Ascension Peter would become a primary leader as the church grew beyond Jerusalem. Jesus plays on Peter’s name (which means rock) as He states “you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.” (v18)
Was Jesus making Peter the ruler of the church to come? Roman Catholics would say yes. Here, they argue, Peter was installed as the first of the Popes and every Pope since is in the line of Peter. In response I would argue that Rome have got this wrong. Peter is given recognition here and we certainly see that soon he becomes a key figure in the church, but to argue that this moment gives him authority over the other Apostles and indeed over the whole church is a stretch.
Instead Peter and the other Apostles would together be rocks in their ministry, Paul later tells us the church is built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles. The confession made by Peter would be the rock of the Apostles’ testimony. They would preach that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God and they would have Christ given authority in the keys of the kingdom (v19). They would preach the Gospel and see the church built by the sacraments and they would exercise discipline within the church of Christ.
Peter’s confession remains solid rock. Jesus is the Messiah, all who trust in Him will be saved and He promises to build His church which not even the gates of hell will be able to destroy (v18). Today we are thankful for Peter’s ministry. He wasn’t perfect but he would be used by the Lord to establish His church across the world. But today we do not look to Peter, instead we look to Christ. In Jesus we will never be put to shame and in Jesus our feet are planted on a rock that will not move.
Q44 What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us? The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.