Friday, July 4, 2014
4th of July – Our Battle Cry
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:15-18 NET)
Jesus spent three extraordinary years with His disciples, teaching, doing miracles, revealing who God is and how the Kingdom of God was about to turn the world upside down with His coming death and resurrection. He taught in parables, He spoke outright, He taught by example and in lessons. It’s hard to imagine that those twelve men didn’t yet figure out that Jesus was God walking among them.
Just earlier in this chapter, Jesus warns them about the “yeast of the Pharisees,” meaning the false pride of the spiritual leaders and experts in scripture who rejected Jesus as their Messiah. But the disciples thought Jesus was asking if anyone had remembered to buy bread for dinner! If you worry that you disappoint God too much, you are in good company – before the baptism in the Holy Spirit, these men who later transformed the world and established the Early Church were as thick-headed as they come!
The Pharisees didn’t recognize their own God in human form, and His disciples were arguing about dinner, and finally in a quiet moment, Jesus asks who they think He is. Peter responds that some think He’s a great prophet, or John the Baptist, Jeremiah or Elijah raised from the dead. “But who do YOU say I am?” Jesus asks. Peter answers with such simple and heartfelt faith: Jesus was God. The Son of God. The Anointed One, who the world had been waiting for, for thousands of years.
Jesus is so happy at Peter’s answer that He blesses him on the spot and changes his name from Simon to Peter, which means small rock. Then Jesus says that “on this rock,” using the Greek word for massive boulder, He will build His church. Jesus wasn’t saying that the church would be built on the little rock Peter, but on the massive truth that Peter had just spoken. That Jesus was the Messiah, God in flesh who had come to save the world from the power of sin, death and all evil. This is our legacy, and this is the Rock that our faith should be firmly planted on. We are His Church, built on Jesus, our Rock.
The final phrase is the great promise that should be our war cry against any attack of the devil, “…and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” As His Church, we are the Body of the Lord Jesus on this earth, and the gates of hell itself cannot prevail against us. We always, always have authority over evil, no matter how much the devil tries to threaten us. A Christian in fear of Satan is one who doesn’t yet believe in the promises of God. Take this promise, run with it, face down your enemies and see how God will bring you victory after victory!