by Mike Raiter

Day 37

Read Matthew 16:17-20

Peter has just spoken and made the great confession about Jesus (v. 16). Jesus now speaks and makes His confession about Peter. Sin has blinded people's spiritual eyes and so God himself needs to enlighten their understanding so that they can see Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:25-27). Ultimately, it is God who has enabled Peter-and you and me-to confess Jesus (v. 17).

It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to preach this unchanging, life-saving gospel

There are a couple of views regarding Jesus' confession and one of them is that He now explains to ″Peter″ why He gave him that name. ″Peter″ is the masculine form of the Greek word for ″rock″. It is as if Jesus is saying, ″You are ‘Rocky' and on this rock I will build my church″. It is a play on words, as if God was to say to me, ″You are Mike, and through this mike I will broadcast my gospel″. Jesus is announcing that Peter's ministry will be foundational to the building of the church.

That is exactly what we find in the book of Acts. After Jesus has ascended, it is Peter who assumes the leadership role in God's building of the church. It is Peter who speaks at Pentecost when the Spirit comes in power on those Jews who believed (Acts 2:1-41), and then preaches to Cornelius and the Spirit comes upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48).

Peter also stands in the Gospels as first among equals. Paul wrote that the church is ″built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone″ (Ephesians 2:20). It was through these men, under Peter's leadership, and their apostolic teaching, that God builds His church, which will never die.

Finally, Jesus makes a remarkable promise to Peter: ″I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven″ (v. 19).

If you have the keys to a house, you can grant entry to some and refuse others. That is what Jesus means by ″bind″ and ″loose″ (v. 19). As Peter and the apostles­-and, indeed, all who preach this apostolic gospel-announce the good news to people, those who believe are loosed or released from their sins. Those who do not believe are kept outside the kingdom.

If I lose my keys, people cannot enter my house. Or, if I change the key's shape, then the door remains shut. It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to preach this unchanging, life-saving gospel.

Think through:

When God opened your eyes to see Jesus and understand who He is, how did that experience impact your life?

What would you say is the ″apostolic gospel″? How can this gospel be distorted and what are the ramifications of this happening?




About Author

Mike Raiter is a preacher, preaching trainer and former Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. He is now Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching and the author of a number of books, including Stirrings of the Soul, which won the 2004 Australian Christian Book of the Year award.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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