2021_02_24 Insight Post- Rusty Coram
This week's reading- Matthew 15 & 16
In Matthew this week, we come across some teachings of Jesus that can be difficult to understand, especially the first time through. In chapter 16 (see verses 13-20) Peter gets it right when Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter was the first of the disciples to realize this. Then Jesus says, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Without getting too much into the differences in Catholic and Protestant views, here is what we know as we practice our process of letting the Bible interpret the Bible. It was a big deal that Peter was the first of the disciples to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. We see throughout the New Testament that as the church begins, Peter is a key leader in that process. He is truly a “rock” in the building of the church, and along with the other disciples (minus Judas), on a human level they become the foundation of it. Ephesians 2:20 tells us, “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself”. Jesus is always the true “rock” and foundation of His church, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11.
Here is what I believe the basic meaning of what Jesus is saying is: Peter is going to be a key leader in the church, and with that comes significant responsibility. He (along with the other apostles) will be announcing the victory of Jesus over death and sin, and as the church is developing they will be making major decisions that will help shape what it becomes. An example of this is seen in Acts where Peter learns that God was saving Gentiles, just like He was saving Jews (see Acts 10-11:18). In Acts 15 we read about a huge conflict within the church that requires apostolic leadership to settle the argument over if Gentile believers should be accepted as equal members of God’s family. This is an example of Peter and the others using the “keys to the kingdom” to unlock doors so that all people were understood as loved and pursued by God.