02/19/W – On This Rock

Genesis 50:1-26; Matthew 16:13-20; Psalms 21:8-13; Proverbs 10:5

OT: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” …But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (‭‭Genesis‬ ‭50:15, 19-21‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Joseph’s life was a beautiful picture of complete faith in the Lord. He was a man that did not have the written word, the blessing of Christ’s salvation, nor the indwelling Holy Spirit; yet he lived a life of faith in the revelation of God that he had. Because of his faith, a prophetic people was saved and a prophetic promise endured. The book of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph and the promise that God will one day return His people to the promised land.

NT: “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” …“But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:13, 15-19‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Caesarea Philippi was a gentile city located at the base of Mt. Hermon and the headwaters of the Jordan River. It was a hub of pagan worship. One of the gods that was worshiped there was the Greek god Pan. The Grotto of Pan was a cave at the bottom of a large cliff from which a spring gushed out water, and was considered a gate of Hades. Here, in the midst of pagan worship and before the “gates of Hades,” Jesus asked his disciples who people thought He was. After they gave various answers, He then asked, “Who do you say that I am.” Peter, having received revelation from the Father, proclaimed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” At that point, Jesus says a few very important things. 1) You are Petros (a stone). 2) I will build my ecclesia (an assembly of called out people) on this Petra (large rock cliff). 3) the gates of Hades will not be able to overpower it. So – what does that mean? First of all, Jesus’s purpose is not to build a kingdom – His purpose is to build a church, a community of people called out from sin and the ways of the world to follow Him. Peter is not the rock that the church is built on. Peter is a stone that will be used in the building of the church – just as we all are. That is why Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2, that we are all living stones used to build a spiritual house with Christ as the chief cornerstone. While the pagan worship of that area was centered around a cave at the bottom of a large rocky cliff – Christ’s church would be built on the rock solid foundation of Who He was: The Messiah, the Son of God. And the plans and schemes of Hades itself will not be able to overpower that rock, nor the church that is built on it. Jesus didn’t need to build a kingdom, for He already had a kingdom. Instead, He would give His church the keys of the kingdom (or the right of entry and use) of the kingdom here on earth – and His church would have the authority to bind on earth what had been bound in heaven, and loose on earth what had been loosed in heaven. In other words, Christ’s church would be His kingdom ambassadors here on earth, delegated with all of the rights, privileges, and authority of the kingdom. But that privilege is only available to those who are part of the church that Christ is building and who have placed their complete faith in Him – who He is and what He has accomplished.

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