Can you trust what people say about you that don’t really know you? Jesus asked his disciples what people were saying about him. Theories still abound concerning the identity of Jesus: good man, remarkable teacher, founder a religion, martyr, etc. All of them are lacking. Where Jesus is recognized as Lord and Savior, faith grows and the gospel prospers. Where Jesus is considered one among many others, a “religious buffet” is being served. Pick any entree besides the living Lord, and we’ll discover that they are all spoiled and laced with salmonella that will eventually lead to death.
Beginning in the 1930s, scientists began their search for a 9th planet they expected to exist somewhere past Neptune until a scientifically hungry farm boy named Clyde Tombaugh made the pleasant sighting while peering into his handmade 9 inch telescope on a clear Kansas night. After the discovery, elementary school students in English speaking countries began the memorization pattern for the nine planets for decades later such as “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas!”
Then, sadly in 2006, the International Astronomical Union took a vote and decided to no longer classify Pluto as a planet. Despite the fact that Pluto orbits around the sun, despite the fact that Pluto has its own gravitational force, and despite the fact that Disney has made a cartooned dog to accompany their ever popular mouse, Pluto has been declassified. The name “dwarf planet” has such an inferior name to it.
Some believe that the IAU has no real authority to declassify Pluto as a planet. Though it may be okay for an organization to explain to others what they feel a word is supposed to be, I believe it is not acceptable to alter the meaning of the word “planet” once it has already been well-defined.
The same thing that happened to Pluto is I believe continues to happen to the Lord Jesus Christ. This man, whose overwhelming historical records indicated that he lived, died, and resurrected continues to be declassified and discredited.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asked his disciples two questions. “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?” There were many answers to this question. Some thought John the Baptist, others thought Elijiah. But when the disciples were asked “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded back with the correct answer. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
To everyone who accepts Jesus as their Messiah, He is the savior of their life. But to those who are unsure of who Jesus is, please do not accept the world’s attempt at his declassification as something other than Savior. Do not be pluto’ed by those lies. He loves you, He died for you, and He wants to live in you and through you with resurrection power. And he wants you to go with him someday to a place thats out of this world.
Jesus told Peter that God had revealed the great spiritual truth to him. Often we wonder where certain people get their insight, their faith. If we knew where faith comes from, we could give credit for being faithful. If it comes from inside us, we get the credit. Jesus did the work that enabled our salvation, but then we could get credit for believing in it. If it comes from outside us, then God gets the credit. Jesus both did the work that enables our salvation and provides the means of our accepting it. As blind people need help to “see” the world, so spiritually dead people need help to find spiritual life. Jesus gives us that help. When it comes to bragging about your faith, brag about God. He is the one who gives us faith.
Next, Jesus says something extraordinary about Peter’s confession. It’s the first time that the word “church is used in the New Testament. “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
The word “church” (ekklesia) is found in the Gospels only in Matthew, but the concept is throughout all four Gospels. Jesus’ words reveal that there would be a definite interim period between his death and second coming—the “church age.” “Church” means “the called-out people of God.”
The church is the only N.T. institution that Jesus specifically promised to bless and to build. Think about that. Jesus never specifically promised to build the Rotary Club or Lion’s Club. He didn’t promise the build the VFW. He never promised to build the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Jesus never promised to bless and build Christian colleges. These organizations are great but they never specifically received Jesus’ promise.
The church is eternal and bigger than any earthly king or country. Countries come and go, the church is here to stay! What that means for us is that church and the Kingdom of God are not always defined by “American” values. Now don’t get me wrong. America can be a blessing, but it is not the institution Jesus promised to bless or to build.
Jesus says, “the gates of Hades will not stand against it.”
The “gates of Hades” represents Satan and all his minions. These words may be interpreted, in light of other passages on the power of Satan, as Satan’s domain in struggle against the church. Christ promises that Satan will not defeat the church; instead, his sphere of operation (death) will be defeated. In these words Jesus gave the promise of the indestructibility of the church and protection for all who believe in him and become part of his church.
The church is Jesus choice of offensive weapons. Gates are primarily for defense. And where does Jesus say the gates are attached? Hades, not on the church. If this is true, then our job as the church is to sharpen and use our offensive skills. As the church we are an offensive weapon. We know who Jesus is, we are sharing who He is and what He has done and we are moving forward in victory!
Then Jesus said, “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The meaning of this verse has been a subject of debate for centuries. Some say the “keys of the kingdom” represents the authority to carry out church discipline, legislation, and administration; others say the keys give the authority to announce the forgiveness of sins. Most likely, the “keys” are the kingdom authority given to the church, including the opportunity to bring people to the kingdom of heaven by presenting them with the message of salvation found in God’s Word.
Do you know who Jesus is? Is He your Lord and Savior? Do you see yourself as a victor not a victim? I hope that you will join me will receiving him, living for him and participating in a movement that is bigger and more blessed than any other, the church.
In the next post we will look at what else Jesus says about following Him.