July 7, 2018

Matthew 16:15-19… 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. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

            This paragraph has been hotly contested through the ages. Certain denominations claim that Peter himself was the rock upon which the church has been built. Others claim that it was not Peter but his confession. I think it is neither but, rather, the power of God. When Jesus first addressed Peter, He called him Simon Bar-jonah, his earthy name, given to him by his parents. But, after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of the living God, Jesus addresses him with his new name, Peter. When Jesus first met Simon, He said to him that He would change his name to Peter, which means, Rock. Changing a name does not change a person… neither does adding a title. You can call yourself a Christian but unless you obey Jesus, that is just an added superlative. Because Peter had been taught by God, Jesus announced that the transformation was complete.  And that, to me, describes the purpose of the Church. We are not merely named after Christ, we are changed by God. Even the ability to hear God is a result of the change. “Faith” is listed as a gift of the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:9) God taught Peter the truth about Jesus. He did not learn it by listening to flesh and blood. That is crucial to an effective name change. I just had a radical thought that I have not entertained before. At the time all of this was taking place, Jesus lived in a body… He took on flesh and blood. When we read the words of Jesus, we are still dependant on the Holy Spirit for interpretation and application. Don’t trust only in your mental capacity to understand. I seek to understand. I do, but  I am dependant on the holy Spirit to properly apply the word of God in my life. God is the rock upon which Jesus is building His Church.