Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.””But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:13-17)
Years ago when working on university campuses, we made it our goal to do whatever we could to make Jesus the issue on the campus. We did this by speaking to the needs of the students and then relating Jesus as the solution to those needs. This was the atmosphere during the times of Jesus in the 1st Century. He was the issue that everyone was talking about and everyone had an opinion about him.
Jesus asked “What are people saying out there?” Then, turns the corner and asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came through with the answer: “You are God’s Messiah, the Son of the living God!” Just when Peter was about to take credit for this observation, Jesus points out that his Father gave him that insight.
Then Jesus makes a curious statement: “You are Peter (little rock) and upon this rock (big ledge) I will build my church.” He refers to some sort of huge rock or ledge upon which Jesus will build his church. Here are the most common options: (1) He is speaking of Peter as the foundation of the church. This would place a man as the foundation of the church. (2) He is speaking of the words Peter spoke-the confession of who indeed Jesus is-the Messiah, the Son of the living God. This would set in place words and theology as the governing foundation and force of the church of Jesus.
The problem with these two explanations is that they are based upon man’s leadership and man-made theological structures of Jesus’ words. (3)He is speaking of the actual, living expression of Peter about the truth of who Jesus is. It’s the beauty of people from a variety of cultures and status who are given by the Father the revelation, the power and the courage to profess that they are followers of Messiah Jesus, the Son of the living God.
This is the foundation of the church of Jesus. It’s built around the transformation, only God can perform. No flesh and blood is able to convert anyone. Only God, Himself, reveals who Jesus really is. No amount of preaching, altar calls, or conversion attempts can work. So simple and yet so powerful!