The Bridge (Matthew 16:15-18)

Photo by Hazel Clifton on Unsplash

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter  answered, “You  are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by 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 overcome it.”

Jesus here takes Simon Peter’s name and shortens it to just “Peter”. He notes that Peter has been changed by a revelation of God. Who he was before (“Simon”) is different than who he is now (“Peter”).  There is clearly a relationship between these two terms, because in Greek, Peter is “Πέτρος”, and rock is “πέτρα”.  As one commentator notes, “Jesus gave the name ‘Peter’ to Simon not as an affectionate nickname nor […] as an alternative name, but rather as a means of marking destiny in some manner.”

The words Jesus uses in the Scripture demonstrate that He was fond of word plays. By tying Simon’s middle name to the confession of Jesus as Christ, He both affirms Simon’s confession as the foundation of what it means to be part of the Church He is building, and also affirms Simon as the first member of said Church. Jesus is saying that Simon is the first true convert. Peter is the first one of His followers to grasp the reality that Jesus is not merely a great man, prophet and wonder-worker sent by God, but God’s own beloved Son, sent to earth. From this point forward, Simon is no longer a Jew who sees value in following Jesus. He is now a Christian, committed to following Jesus because the change toward Christ-likeness has now begun. 

The journey of faith that every professing Christian ultimately looks back upon has within it a tipping point. Like the journey from childhood to adulthood, the journey is experienced through mile-markers and seasons, but it is only when one looks back that the definitive transition point from one to the other becomes clear. 

At that point they have moved from being interested in Jesus – even interested enough to follow Him – to being truly changed by Him. They have moved to the line that separates nonbelievers from believers, and then crossed over that line. They are no longer just followers. They are now partners in ministry. They may be still immature partners, but they are qualitatively different than who and what they were before. 

Being qualitatively changed and becoming ministry partners with God doesn’t mean that Christians are by any means perfect. Peter – as Matthew will soon demonstrate to us – still sins. In fact, in a very short time Jesus will call out Peter for allowing Satan to work through him (v23 of this same chapter)! But it does mean that as Christians, we can know that the strongholds of wrong thinking in our minds have no chance of standing against the reality God has revealed to us. Every wrong thought pattern will eventually succumb. 

Christ is our savior. He will save us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He is able to, because He is the Son of the Living God. Not a man, but God. This much we know, and on this we will rely until made perfect, we stand before Him and see His face.

Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him every day. Don’t be swayed by the false values and goals of this world, but put Christ and His will first in everything you do.

Billy Graham

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What has Jesus most recently saved you from?