THURSDAY, JULY 23
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 16 PART TWO
Author: Jeremy Witt
Today we will deal with verses 17-28. Peter just declared Jesus as the Messiah in verse 16.
First, notice in verse 17 that Jesus declared that God revealed this to Peter. God is the One who opens our eyes. God is the One who pursues us. God is the One who sent Jesus to us. We may realize that there is something bigger than us (see Romans 1:19-23). Also, note that Jesus says “You did not learn from any human being.” It was not made up by man despite the skeptic’s claims!
Verse 18 is one that is highly debated by scholars and even denominations or other faiths. Some interpret that Jesus was saying that “upon Peter, I will be my church.” This view is held by the Roman Catholic Church who calls Peter the first pope. Because Petros in Greek means rock, and Jesus says, “upon this rock, I will build my church ('ecclesia'-Greek word for church), they claim Peter is whom the church was built upon. However, what did Peter do to save? What did Peter do for the church? He called people to believe in Jesus and what Jesus did on the Cross? The church was built upon Christ and what He did! Peter merely proclaimed Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which is who saves us. This rock upon which the Church was built is Jesus Himself.
Peter’s confession is what we confess when we declare that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the World. Is Peter important? Absolutely! What Peter did was important, but what Jesus did was to defeat sin and death! A church built on a man would crumble when that man died. (By the way, we see this happen today) Peter will later declare in 1 Peter 2:4-6 that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.
At the end of verse 17, Jesus said, “the gates of hell (or powers of hell) shall not prevail (or conquer) against” the church. This is ultimately a declaration that God wins. His Kingdom and His Church will ultimately win. Pay careful attention that Jesus didn’t say that hell or Satan wouldn’t attack the church or that hell couldn’t invade the church. We know that this happens today and has happened in the past. To summarize what Jesus said is that when the church rises up and moves forward with the Gospel, nothing can stop her – not even the gates of hell. The church Jesus built is designed to be an unstoppable force. However, we do not always see this. In fact, the biggest thing that keeps the church from being what Jesus declared is when the church refuses to be the church that Jesus built.
In verses 21-28 we read of the first time that Jesus predicts His death. We also see Peter responding in emotion and trying to control Jesus. Have you ever tried to do that? Unfortunately, I have. Verse 22, Peter responds to Jesus based upon his understanding rather than the will of God. Yep, I have done that too! Peter had his own expectations of the Messiah, and Jesus's suffering and death were not in Peter’s mind. However, Isaiah 53 speaks specifically to what the Messiah would do. Daniel 7:13-14 and 9:-26-27 speak towards a period of trouble and that the Messiah would be cut off. Moment of application for us. We, as Americans, look at suffering as punishment. Yet throughout Scripture, we are told that we are blessed when we suffer on Jesus’ account. We are told throughout the New Testament that we will suffer and face persecution. As Americans, we avoid it all cost/ We say things like, “surely God does not want you to go through this.” We act like Peter when we say these things. The Church has always thrived under suffering and persecution. It is when she has grown the most.
Also, notice that Jesus called Peter a specific name. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block.” Was Peter demon-possessed? No! How can I say that? Peter had just declared Jesus as the Messiah. Satan cannot possess that which is not his. However, he can use a Christ-follower as an instrument when we are living in our flesh. I realize this is a much bigger topic that for what our space allows, but here in verse 23, Peter was used by Satan and Jesus plainly calls him out. We must be careful not to “see things merely from a human point of view” (NLT) or “you are not setting your mind on God’s interest, but man’s.” (NASB)
Finally, in the last set of verses (24-28), we read of the cost of following Jesus. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. (verse 24) We must be willing to lose our life for His sake (verse 25). We can’t be focused on this world (verse 26). How are we doing in these ways? This is so much more difficult than space allows, but we all can improve in doing these things. May we follow and become more like our Savior!