Pastor Sean Blomquist
Shelter Covenant Church
Matthew 16:18-19 Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.”
There is plenty yummy invitation and challenge for the follower of Jesus in this passage.
The first thing I see is Jesus giving Simon his new name, Peter. It is an invitation from Jesus to Peter, the little rock to be one, to be in covenant relationship with Jesus the Big Rock. His identity now flows from the Rock. Like Jacob who in the Old Covenant was called “Israel,” Peter is given a new name. This covenant identity will remind Peter WHO he is. Covenant relationship is the first theme of the bible.
There is further delight asking, ‘Is the “rock” limited to identifying Peter,” or ‘Could the rock – the place Jesus sends His church also have a greater missional reference?’ Jesus is in Caesarea Philippi (the Golan Heights region), beyond our idea of Sin City, it was said, “No good Jew would ever visit.” Jesus and the boys are likely in plain sight of the “Rock of the Gods,” a rock where worshipers of Caesar, Pan, and gods of fertility would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites.
Jesus is building his Church on the leadership of Peter and the disciples. He is also in a Gentile land where He prophetically speaks about the gates of hell not over-coming the church to come. It is this non-Jewish world of Gentile pageantry that is the missional challenge of Jesus to His followers.
This is the second major theme of the bible, Kingdom responsibility – mission to the world. By Acts 15 the Spirit has bursts through Jew -Gentile barriers. In Acts 15, the community of leading disciples work together to take mission-minded responsibility for what the Spirit was doing and cooperate in God’s kingdom coming on all the earth as it is in heaven. It is our mission today, if we will but remember who we are in Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Rock of Ages. May I get Your invitation to my identity in You. May I realize You don’t call me just to sit but to go. You call me in community with others to missionally engage the world beyond ourselves, the world beyond my comfort, the world You look to, died for, the world You invite and challenge us to love. Amen