From: Su Min
Subject: (9 Jan) The Rock
Thursday 9th January 1997
Epistle to The CyberChurch
GREETINGSMy beloved tecknion,
(teknion, "tek-nee-on" Strong's concordance #5040 [diminuitive of teknon, child] darlings, little children, Christian converts)
TEXTToday we look at Matthew_16:13-_20,_Mark_8:27-30.
CONTEXTJesus was continuing in his wandering ministry around Galilee. Caesaria Philippi is a city about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It is sited in a beautiful locality at the foot of Mount Hermon, where the eastern source of the River Jordan rushes out of a cliff. The town was known from OT times as Baalgad, as Baal was worshipped there. Later the Greeks came and substituted their god Pan, and the town took the name Paneas. Philip the Tetrach renamed the town Caesaria, in honour of Augustus Caesar. The addition of "Philippi" was made to differentiate it from Caesaria, the coastal town. Today Caesaria Philippi is known by the ancient name of "Banias". We, the church, love Caesaria Philippi as the venue where Jesus declared He will build His church on The Rock.
THE WALKJesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesaria Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" (Mark_8:27) When Jesus came to the region of Caesaria Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?" (Matthew_16:13)
The sense of travel is captured in Mark. Jesus moves about with His disciples, from place to place, usually on foot. Walking long distances takes time. Time is not wasted, for Jesus takes the opportunity to teach his disciples. He may teach them in parables, He may explain parables: this time He asks a question.
THE QUESTION"Who do people say I am?" "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
Jesus had made an impact on the community. He was noticed. Did the Pharisees and Sadducees notice Him? Yes they did. Did the multitudes notice Him? Yes, they did. Did the hungry notice Him? Yes, they did. Did the demon-possessed, the sick, the lame, the blind, all who were healed by Him notice Him? Yes, they did. What did the people make of this itinerant preacher? Who did they say He was?
THE QUESTION BEHIND THE QUESTIONJesus sought to edify His disciples. He wanted them to clarify in their minds and declare with their speech what they believed in their hearts. To set the arena clear, to focus their mind on the topic, Jesus asks for a general declaration at first: "Who do the people say I am?": but Jesus means this question to lead up to a personal direct question.
THE ANSWERSThey replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." (Mark_8:28) They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (Matthew_16:14)
Many had connected Jesus to the Messianic prophesy, but none had seen that indeed he was the Anointed One. John the Baptist was predicted as the forerunner (Matthew_3:1-13,_14:1-2). Elijah was to precede "The day of the Lord" (Malachi_4:5-6). Jesus indeed had the qualities of the prophets, and by popular interpretation, perhaps he was one of the prophets of old.
THE REAL QUESTION"But what about you?", He asked. "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew_16:15,_Mark_8:29)
Jesus was not as interested in knowing about the wrong interpretations of the multitudes. Jesus was interested in the personal understanding of his disciples. It was a one to one relationship: "Who do YOU say I am?"
Even today, beloved, Jesus from His throne in heaven, calls to you and asks, "Who do you say I am?". A carpenter? A baby in the manger? A prophet? A good man? The Son of Man? The Son of God? Lord and Saviour? Who do YOU say He is?
SIMON PETER CONFESSESPeter answered, “You are the Christ". (Mark_8:29b)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, The Son of the Living God" (Matthew_16:16)
Simon Peter we first meet in Matt:4:18, fisherman, brother of Andrew, son of Jonah. He was one of the inner circle of three closest disciples of Jesus (Peter James & John).: His impulsive nature is documented clearly. He was originally called Simon, but at their first meeting (John_1:42), Jesus gives him another name "Kepha",, or "Cephas" an Aramaic name meaning "Rock", in the Greek presentation "Petros", Anglicised to "Peter".
When asked by Jesus, Simon Peter, one of His closest disciples blurts out "You are the Christ, The Son of the Living God" Simon Peter confesses that their teacher and master is no less than the long awaited Messiah, The Anointed One, the Consolation of Israel.
REVEALED BY GODJesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew_16:17)
How did Simon Peter come across this truth, when the Pharisees and Sadducees, the teachers of the law and the high priests could not? Jesus tells us that this understanding was revealed to him by God.
And for us, beloved, how do we come to know the saving grace of Jesus? How do we learn of eternal salvation? How do we learn that God is love? These things are not revealed to us by man, but by our Father in heaven.
BUILDING THE CHURCHAnd 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_16:18)
A great doctrinal divide has resulted from this one verse:
Traditionally it has been taken to mean that the church is founded on Peter the rock. A more fundamental look at the text suggests that The Rock upon which Jesus would found His church was not Peter, little pebble, but The Church is to built upon the Confession That Jesus is The Christ, The Revelation, The Anointed One, The Rock of Ages.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew_16:19)
WARNINGThen he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.(Matthew_16:20)
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. (Mark_8:30)
This warning is a link to the next lesson, placed there by the gospel writers like part of the tales of the Arabian nights, a foretaste of the pleasures and sweetness of the next episode: Watch this space....
CLOSING PRAYERAbba Father, we thank you for your lesson today Thank you for founding your church, the congregation of saints, and for giving keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Give us the will to reflect these spiritual truths in our lives In the name of JESUS. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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