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The Church

Jul 12, 2015
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King Jesus and the Queen City

This morning Pastor Alex taught about Peter’s profound confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew 16:13-21 tells the story of Jesus taking his disciples to Ceasarea Philippi, a hotbed of pagan idol worship. In this city was a pagan worship site for the god Pan, a huge rock wall which the people called “The Gates of Hell.” In this context of disgusting and idolatrous pagan worship, Jesus sat with his disciples to explain the power of the Kingdom of God.

After Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus goes on to make two important claims that have often been misunderstood. First he says: “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Some understand this to be establishing Peter as the first Pope, while others think it has nothing to do with Peter at all. Without diminishing Peter’s importance as an Apostle, we should recognize that Jesus is speaking about the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus will use the proclamation of the gospel, first by the Apostles and eventually by us, to build the church. In the midst of a pagan world that seemed so powerful, Jesus teaches that the gospel is and unstoppable force.

Secondly, Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” In Judaism, keys were symbolic of access and authority (see Isaiah 22:17-25). So, Jesus is telling the Apostles that the authority of the Kingdom of God will be given to them. They will “bind” and “loose,” not in the sense that they will determine what is true, but rather that they will be able to agree with and proclaim the truth of the gospel. Thus, the keys are symbolic of the power of the gospel which is given to every person who believes, along with Peter, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus went into death so that by conquering death he would have authority over death. He has given to us the authority to proclaim the power of the gospel so that we might might be built up by it, and so that by it we also might be builders.

To discuss as a family today
1. Take a few minutes to individually answer the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Discuss your answer with you family members and the way that your answers determines your path.

2. In what ways do you feel connected or disconnected with the global and historical church? How might this passage teach us about our unity with other believers?

3. How can you use “the keys of the kingdom” this week? Discuss as a family some possible opportunities you have to proclaim the power of the gospel to each other and your neighbors.

Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God, I praise you for entering into death and conquering it. I pray that you would conquer in my heart the fear of death and overcome it with confidence in the good news of resurrection. Thank you for building your church. Thank you for overcoming the powers of this world and the dominion of darkness. Give me boldness and joy this week as I proclaim the gospel. Please build me into your body, and make me a builder of others. Amen.