Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV)
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.
Jesus and his disciples entered Caesarea Philippi. They were back in Gentile territory and apparently experiencing a break from the crowds. Jesus used this time to help his disciples think through all that they learned, saw and experienced while traveling with him. Jesus initiated this process by asking about what others thought of him. The disciples listed some of the great speculations they heard others make about Jesus (v. 14), but none were correct. Then, getting to the heart of the matter, Jesus asks the disciples directly, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replies to Jesus, “You are the Christ” or the Messiah, the Anointed One, of Israel. And Peter adds, “You are the Son of the living God.” Jesus let him know he was absolutely right. Then Jesus added that Peter didn’t come up with this on his own. Instead, God himself revealed it to Peter. It’s interesting that Peter’s name, Petros, means “rock,”, and Jesus used the word petra, which means “massive rock” or “bedrock,”, to describe the truth that Peter or Petros declared. By using a play on words to highlight this concept, Jesus let Peter know that the affirmation he just made was the bedrock on which he would build his church. The disciples learned that Jesus himself is the ultimate foundation or cornerstone of the church.
Then Jesus let the disciples know that nothing, not even the gates of hell, considered strong enough to keep the dead locked in, would be able to stop God’s program for his church. If you are a Christian today, you, like Peter, have realized that Jesus is the promised Messiah. You have put your faith in the truth that Jesus has taken your sin upon himself and given you his righteousness. If you understand this, then it was God, by the Holy Spirit, who revealed it to you. As Christians, we need to stop and ponder the marvelous reality that God has chosen to reveal himself specifically to us. That ought to humble us and fill us with a sense of gratitude that nothing else can compare to. Again, God made Jesus known to you. Let that knowledge guard your heart and mind as you face the challenges of your busy day, with more thankfulness than ever before. Just as Jesus says to Peter in verse 17, “You are blessed,” he says the same to us. We are blessed!