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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

“Jesus’ Touch”

Matt. 16:13-20

This is one of the strongest statements in scripture on the nature of the church.  Jesus asks the disciples who do people say that he (the Son of Man) is?  He is not asking in Galilee or Jerusalem.  He is in Casesara Philippi.  As is clear from the name this district is named in honor of Caesar.  Caesar had many titles including “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  It is then significant that Jesus asks what names people call him while he is in a very Roman district.

Then as now there are many interpretations of who Jesus is.  Basically he is seen as one of the prophets.  Many people today would grant that Jesus was a prophetic figure.  However impressive, this is a far cry from saying who he really is.  Jesus asks the pointed question of the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter gives the classic answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  This is the basis, the sole basis for the church.  The church is not a club, a service center or simply a community of friends.  The church is the community called by God to testify to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior, the Lord.

Jesus then uses a play on words (or at least Matthew interprets it that way.  Jesus and the disciples would not have been speaking Greek in all probability).  Peter’s name in Greek is the root word for “rock” or “stone.”  When Jesus says “on this rock I will build my church, ” he is alluding to Peter.  However, it is not Peter the person who is the “rock” (as we see from the next section).  It is his confession of faith this is the basis for the church.

Jesus makes it clear that it is he alone who builds the church and the gates of hell will never be able to close against it.  If the church were only a human institution, it would have died out years ago.  The church exists because of Jesus Christ and it exists to praise him alone,

Loving and gracious God I thank you that Jesus builds the church.  Keep me as a faithful member of it testifying to the truth that Jesus alone is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.