“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14)
What does public opinion say? In the days we live in currently, beloved reader, that is a risky question. Not so much concerning Jesus (although there may be some differing in answers) but generally speaking – what is current opinion concerning the news at hand. Because, in Jesus’ time, he WAS the current news. It was one of the most talked about pieces of news. Jesus probably knew what the populace was saying but he wanted to hear what the disciples had heard; and just as important or maybe more so, what they thought.
“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”(Verse 15)
If any group of people knew Jesus best, it was the group that had been traveling with him since the beginning of his ministry. These were the people who had seen him when he was in front of people preaching, teaching, and healing. And when he was taking time away to meditate and renew himself. And remember too, this was the Jesus who healed the daughter of the Samaritan woman, with just a word. And this was the Jesus who came walking across the turbulent waters. So in light of all this, he asked, “Who do you say I am?” [emphasis mine]
“Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Verse 16 – 17)
Now here I need to do a little doubting. In the face of all that Jesus did, who could not believe that Jesus was the Son of God? Some of the prophets (major and minor) also healed people. And did other pretty amazing things, and confronted religious and political leaders. So I can see where it might be a “leap of faith” alone to ascribe it to the Divine.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Verse 18)
Barnes and I agree that it was not on the personage of Peter that the church was built, but on solid and irrefutable truths and faith that the church would be built on. And that nothing will withstand against it. I do have a little more to say about this further on.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” (Verses 19 – 20)
Peter, as the first, and the apostles soon after, were given guidance and control over forming the new church that had as its foundation belief in Jesus the Christ. They, as the first ones instructed, would pass on that teaching and as they taught, so would the church be established. But it was not time yet to start this church, and establish the tenets of its faith. Jesus had more to do before the end of his time and the beginning of the new church of Christ. If what had already happened caused fervor and speculation about Jesus, then it was only the beginning. And it was not wise to rush into the times that would come. The times and the disciples were not ready.
Now, back to a point I made previously. That the church would stand resolute against whatever came against it, and it would prevail. I said in a previous posting that we live in tumultuous times. That there is furor all around us, and that the values of love, compassion, and acceptance seem to be hard pressed and not valued. The church has changed and evolved since the time of the apostle Peter.
Sometimes it seems like the basis of the church then is not like the basis of many modern day churches. I name no names, and do not have any specific church in mind. I am simply saying that as time moved forward the early church was under differing and evolving lineage of power and authority for it formation. The way it was when it started was not how it remained. BUT the foundation of the church, the power and understanding that prompted Peter’s assertion and confession of faith has not changed. And on that we can pin our hopes! And our continuing faith! Selah!