He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 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.” (Matthew 16:15-18)
“Who do you say I am?”
What a big and loaded question!
For many years I assumed that the whole point of these couple verses was that Peter proclaimed Jesus as The Christ, the Messiah, whom the people had been waiting for.
And that is a major point.
Who I think and say Jesus is, defines me. I grow daily in knowing, loving and following HIM.
What if there is more?
One thing I am learning is that: I don’t know what I don’t know.
Another thing I am learning is that in Walking with Jesus, there is always MORE.
As I was reading the above verses from the book of Matthew a number of things jumped off the page at me.
First, Jesus said some amazing things. “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah.” Not because Peter had the right answer. Not because Peter knew that Jesus was the savior of the whole planet. But Jesus said that Peter was blessed ‘for flesh and blood(man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’
Peter was blessed because The Father in heaven revealed who Christ is? Or Peter was blessed because a person didn’t reveal Christ to him, but God did? Or Peter was blessed because he was in the presence of the living God and walking with HIM and realized it? Or Peter had a direct connection to the Father and acted from that?
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure I first confessed Christ because someone – a person – told me about HIM. Of course I also believe that the Spirit of God was at work in that choice.
How many times have I just listened to someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word? I AM NOT saying that it is wrong to listen to teaching. Instead I am suggesting that teaching should be my invitation to seek HIM out for myself.
What if I had known to listen to the voice of my Father in heaven and hear from HIM? I am not even sure I thought that was possible. I mean really? HE would talk to me? Really? The God of the universe would take time out of HIS mega-importance to talk to me?
Yes! HE did, HE does and HE will.
I am not saying that I hear an audible voice booming from the heavens. Even in the Bible, God doesn’t always speak that way. Sometimes HE used burning bushes, angels, prophets, wind, a donkey. HIS voice whispers through creation to all of us. HE speaks in dreams. HE gave us Holy Spirit to constantly converse with us. HE is always speaking.
I have not always been listening.
Jesus says that Peter is blessed for hearing from God. Listening to God instead of man. Choosing to repeat what God said, instead of what man said.
A knowing that comes from hearing the voice of God, as Peter did, is foundational to walking with Jesus.
The verses only get better! Next Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”
I really like that Jesus will build His church. Not, ‘Peter now you will build my church.’ Do you think we hear it that way sometimes?
How often do we assume that we are to do God’s part instead of our part? In these verses our part is to hear from our Father in Heaven and His part is to build the church. A little backwards from how we sometimes attack executing our faith?
We also have to look at the word ‘church.’ This word in Greek is ekklesia AND IT IS NOT A BUILDING. It is a group of people, specifically ‘the called out ones.’ It was not a religious or spiritual term. The purpose of an ekklesia was to ‘call people out’ or ‘summon them’ to assemble or to congregate in a public place primarily to deal with civil, political or military matters – not religious matters!* Not how I used to think of the ‘church.’ (Maybe we really can change the world!)
This ekklesia, Jesus said, He will build. And the foundation – the rock – was Peter, a person that heard from heaven.
“And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is the comfort and protection and peace that I walk in daily. These are Jesus’s words. The word.
The gates of hell cannot prevail against a people, called out by Jesus, that hear from the Father in heaven.
A Prayer to hear God’s Voice:
Father God, I long to hear your voice. Please speak to me. Teach me your ways. Reveal to me who YOU are.
Now, listen. God longs for you!
*ReOrient, Kevin Weaver, pp187