Jesus Builds | Matthew 16:13-20
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 16:13–16:20
Good Morning! We are in a series on the book of Matthew; the Gospel account revealing Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, as the Christ, the Savior – King of God’s people. This series has been titled the Revelation of the King as the section we will be looking at (chapters 14-20). Jesus teaches, Jesus heals, Jesus performs miracles, but above all Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, in all that he does he is revealing Himself to the world. Jesus is also savior of his people, he will consistently point his people to the height of his mission, the cross. For the past three weeks we have been in Chapter 16. Jesus has been meeting opposition from the Pharisees and Sadducees, specifically about his divine identity. While Jesus spends little effort answering demands from those who oppose him, he takes great care in how he instructs those who follow him. Jesus intentionally teaches the disciples about His identity and their mission.
Matthew 16:13-20 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Verse 13-14 | Who is Jesus?
Jesus and the disciple have been doing ministry in a very Jewish region with many people who have a passing knowledge of what we know of as the Old Testament and are eager and expectant about a royal-savior that will deliver them from Roman oppression and re-establish the nation of Israel to prominence. Jesus has performed many miracles and after the last great feeding there were many who wanted to make Jesus their king through violent rebellion. Because of this, Jesus has intentionally left and led the disciples away from the region to Caesarea Philippi. Far from the Jewish majority, north towards Syria, they are now in hard core pagan territory. The city was near one of the sources of the Jordan River which had a cave dedicated to the worship of Greek forest god Pan. When Herod the Great was given the land from Caesar Augustus he built a great stone temple to honor the emperor. When Phillip inherited the land he changed the name to Caesarea (again honoring the emperor) Philippi (honoring himself). This is a region defined by pluralistic worship of, and reliance on, the natural environment and government. It is here Jesus chooses to retreat from public ministry, reinforce his identity, and train his disciples for mission.
Alone with the disciples, Jesus asks them “who do the people say I am?” The work Jesus has been doing is undeniable. He is healing people, performing miracles, calming storms. People are seeing this stuff and are talking about it all over the region of Galilee, even among the political elite of Herod’s court. Everyone has their theories. News of John the Baptist death is slow to get around so some believe Jesus is John. (this is what Herod believed) There are people saying He is Elijah (who is to come and prepare the way for the savior), some say he is a prophet from God, like Jeremiah, others a teacher, the Pharisees and religious leaders call him a servant of satan and an illegitimate child of a poor family. Being asked this by Jesus, the disciples give answers that all include Jesus speaking for God and being thought of favorably by the people. Even today, it is very common for most people, regardless of whom they say Jesus is, to express a relatively “positive” view of him. While studying for this sermon I met a guy at a coffee shop and he was very enthusiastic about buying a latex mattress, something about carbon gassing. He was quite an evangelist. I told him about what I do and about this text. That Jesus asks the disciples who the people say he and that many people give many different answers. I told him there are many different answers people can give to the question “Who is Jesus?” He really liked that “I’ve never heard that individual people can all have personal perspectives on who Jesus is.” I said, “Yes, you’ve got part of it, Jesus is incredibly personal in His relationship with His people. However, he is also incredibly specific and about whom he really is and how we are to respond.” You can have and express a positive “view” of Jesus, but that is not enough, it is irrelevant if it is not the correct one.
Verse 15-16 | Your Answer Matters
Jesus knows there are a wide variety of opinions about his identity. There are many with a casual knowledge of, and exposure to, Jesus. Their opinions can be based on either ignorance and indifference. Jesus turns his attention to those who are his close followers and asks them directly “Who do you say that I am?” Peter says, speaking for the disciples, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Bingo!
The answer you give to the question “who is Jesus?” will impact every other aspect of your life. The call to follow and submit to Jesus is individual. It doesn’t matter who you parents say Jesus is, or the tradition you grew up in, who your spouse says Jesus is, or who Newsweek says Jesus is. Yes all those people matter to God, but in terms of your specific relationship with God it is your answer that matters most. The question of who Jesus is demands a response. We all have to do something with Jesus, he is a real person in history. You can speculate, guess, investigate, but at a certain point you have to land on a position of who Jesus is. We all have to choose something to believe about Jesus. Regardless of what we choose to believe, Jesus is who he is. He will not be defined but us, we are defined by Him. Meaning what we choose to say about Jesus says way more about ourselves than it does about Jesus. If your answer is Jesus is just a good teacher, a man, or one voice in a chorus of prophets all singing different tunes about the same God, then his words and actions will have a proportionally small value and have very little impact on your life. However, acknowledging/confessing Jesus is the Messiah “Christ”, the Savor-King of God’s people, and the Son of the Living God,” has a comprehensive impact on how you see everything else. It demonstrates you know there is a Creator, you see the world (including you) in a broken state actually in need of saving, it acknowledges you (and the world) is incapable of “saving” yourself from destruction. It says something about God’s character and power he is LIVING, good and gracious, because he is active in sending His Son, to save His people. It says God is exclusive because Jesus is THE Christ, and THE Son.
Verse 17 | Your Response Changes You
Jesus is explicitly exclusive about his identity. He doesn’t say “Peter, appreciate the complement but I am but one of many ways to whom or whatever you want to call or define as god. Make sure you celebrate with the worshipers of Pan or those who treat Caesar like he’s a god and make don’t any claim that I am somehow THE way, THE truth, or THE life. To remove any ambiguity about who he is, Jesus affirms Peter’s confession of the disciple’s belief Jesus is the Messiah. However, Jesus goes on to tell the disciples how they have come to the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God and savior-king of God’s people. They should confess and respond to Jesus the Savoir but they shouldn’t mistakenly give themselves any credit. Responding to Jesus as the messiah is not a human rational act we can work towards and look down on those who do not. Jesus exclusivity should still lead us to humility, before God, and when engaging with others. We discussed God’s role in our salvation in detail during the Grace series. Kevin talked about spiritual blindness last week. Faith in Jesus the Son is a gift from God the Father, empowered by God the Holy Spirit for the purpose of gracious blessing. Clear understanding and positive response to Jesus’ identity, changes you from being moved by the fickle flow of crowds and culture, to dedicated disciples.
Verse 18 | Jesus builds His Church
Jesus builds His church with disciples. Apparently, acknowledging the Son of God and the blessing that entails includes specifically being part of Jesus church. Jesus saves sinners for the purposes of building His church. In city with a great temple built to an emperor who requires his people to confess “Caesar is lord and the son of god.” Jesus says “No I am the Son of the one true God and on this confession I will build a church (a gathering) of individual people into an everlasting heavenly kingdom. Experiencing Mercy is meant to lead to mission. Grace of restored relationship with God incudes new relationships with God’s people. Jesus says, “You are Peter (sounds like rock in Greek), and on the rock of your confession I will build my church.”
This verse has been used by the Roman Catholic church to establish the authority of the church and the Pope that Peter is himself the rock and the keys to the kingdom (and all authority with it) were given to him and that has been officially passed down from pope to pope for centuries. Peter is highly influential in the foundation and growth of the early church and he’s in the New Testament often but Peter is not the builder and he is not an immovable foundation, Jesus is. In fact a few verse later Jesus will tell Peter to “Get behind me Satan!” Peter, on behalf of the disciples (you is plural), has confessed rightly Jesus is the Christ, the Son on of the Living God. On this confession (The identity of Jesus), Jesus (the cornerstone) will build His church with the disciples as a foundation. There seems to be some confusion in this text, we have some insight in how Peter understood Jesus’ teaching in his later writings to churches about the church.
1 Peter 2:1-10 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have . received mercy.
There are two options, believe and obey or reject, stumble and be crushed. Peter knows how our condition apart from being a piece of Jesus’ church. Ezekiel says on our own we have hearts of stone, cold opposed to God. We are then transformed by the work of God to have hearts of flesh beating for God, and we become a new creation that tastes and sees the Lord is good. What is that new creation? Peter says we are now “living stones” made for a purpose. Not a rock out alone in the wilderness, or as part of a chaotic heap with no form or function, but rather shaped, intended, used by Jesus the builder to be a part of a spiritual house. If you are a disciple of Jesus you are a part of a body He is building. That means you have to be seeking to know what you are supposed to be shaped like and where you are fitting in. Like Christ, you are chosen and precious stone to God and He has an express purpose He is shaping you for, but it is not for you individual glory but to participate in a corporate mission. You might be the corner piece in the bathroom of a glorious spiritual house. The question is how will you be shaped? What does it look like for you to be a living stone shaped by Jesus, placed by Jesus, and used by Jesus?
Jesus purpose in building the church is offensive. There is darkness, sin, and death to be overcome and He is unrelenting in is mission and he knows hell and death will not withstand his assault. He is on the offense in leaving heaven coming to his people; he is on the offense in building his church. Jesus has been building. After the resurrection, 120 in an upper room become several billion people over the following centuries. Don’t believe a lie from the enemy that God is somehow losing. When we see churches shut down, Jesus is saying no, that is not the way I want MY church built. When we see the enemy strike God’s people we aren’t seeing a victory but the final kicks and lashing out of a defeated enemy. Jesus wins! The Gates of hell will not prevail against the overwhelming power of God’s people, following God’s Son, empower by God’s Spirit. Jesus lays out a big goal. When we lay out a goals we know how it goes as times goes on. Enthusiasm fails, mission drifts, and we ultimately surrender. That is not what happens with Jesus, Zeal grows, mission is focused, and ultimate victory is achieved. Jesus isn’t the foundation of the church as if we then take over and shape it as we see fit. Jesus is the BUILDER! He lays the foundation, he puts up the walls and he shapes the details.
Verse 20 | Mission Deferred, Mission Defined
The last verse of this section says Jesus tells the disciples strictly not to share his identity with anyone. Jesus mission to seek and save the lost was going to require His death. His disciples were not to actively share Jesus identity to the world before the actions of the cross and resurrection we revealed. That time has passed. Jesus tells the disciples later to “Go and make disciples” Peter tells the church(es) We exist to “proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness into light.” Churches built by Jesus with “living stones” should be stable and strong, but never missionally stagnant. We are to be on the offense actively shining as much light as possible. What do we believe it looks like for Jesus to be building His church at Damascus Road specifically in the year ahead? This new year will included new…
Shepherd – Jesus is, and always will be, our Chief Shepherd. The bible also calls Elders/Pastors to lead, serve, care, and guide the flock as “under shepherds.” Kevin Swartz has completed the requirements of Elder Candidacy and the elders have voted to welcome him into our church’s eldership. We are excited to officially ordain Kevin as a pastor and install him as an elder on Sunday January 25th.
Studies – To fulfill our purpose of “proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness” we better be well acquainted with what those are. During fall we exclusively focused on reading and discussing God’s word in our Road Groups. Road Groups will continue to be an integral part of living in Gospel Community, We are reintroducing Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies into the regular rhythms of our church. Starting the second full week in January, women will be studying the “minor prophets” mid-morning (10a) on Mon and evenings (7p) on Thurs. Men will study the book of Daniel on Wednesday in the early morning (6a) or evening (7p). We are committed to offering bible studies during each quarter of 2015.
Staff –. The elders believe additional staff pastor support is essential to the maintenance and momentum of our mission. We desire hire Pastor Randy Loveless as a Half-Time Executive/Operations Pastor focusing on the following broad areas:
Manage/drive details of various ministries (Events/studies/Groups/Services)
Intentional shepherding (integration of new people, continuing pastoral care of current members)
Maintain organizational operations and facilities needs leading various deacons and teams.
Our body’s current giving is sufficient to maintain our current staffing level. We’re asking God to steadily grow our corporate giving to allow us to invest in, and commit to, this position starting in February.
Sustained/Strengthen partnership with Acts 29 – The Acts 29 Network is an association of gospel centered churches committed to planting churches. Currently membership in A29 is tied specifically to a church’s Lead Pastor and requires a formal assessment and approval process. To maintain our church’s membership I submitted to the assessment process, was approved by Acts 29, and offered membership. Additionally, we have agreed to financially support the work of Acts 29 in the NW region with 2% of our budget, as part of 10+% we give to outside organizations and church planting. Membership with Acts 29 is an annual commitment and covenant renewal. We have committed for 2015.
Service(s) – While we are not bursting at the seams currently, we do want to plan for future growth and space. The first time our church grew to two services we were only 120 in attendance, with kids. Currently we are averaging about 175 per week. We believe a second service time would increase opportunities for those serving in Kids Road to also participate in a gathering and provide more options for those in our community searching for a church to be a part of. Two options are currently under consideration: Moving to two services (Likely 9 and 10:45a) in early March (4ish weeks before Easter) to have these services in place and "humming" BEFORE Easter (when space limits would likely require two services) and continue with two services after Easter. The second option would be to plan for September to provide options during Fall when our church historically experiences an increase in the size of our gathering. Please pray about this possible change.
With all the opportunities in store for 2015, we are asking each of our members and those who call our church home to prayerfully consider your regular support of, and participation in, the Damascus Road family. We are excited to see what our Faithful Father has in store for us in 2015 as we seek to be built by Jesus, for Jesus!
We take communion each week to remember Jesus greatest act in building His church was having his body broken. He says, I am going to build this church and the first nails driven in will be through my hands. The first wood cut will be for my cross. But there were more materials needed. Jesus purchased His precious building materials with the cost of His own blood. Jesus has, is, and will build His Church. Trust Jesus!