Summary: Jesus was appearing and disappering
The Foundation of the Church by Gerald Van Horn
Text. Matthew 16:18-19
Imagine yourself as the editor of the Jerusalem Daily newspaper in the days of the disciples. Picture the hectic pace to keep up with the changing events. “Jesus Arrested,” “Jesus Found Innocent,” Jesus Crucified,” Body of Jesus Disappears,” “Jesus Rises From The Grave,” “Jesus Appears Again,” etc. Why would there be such headlines? Because Jesus kept appearing and disappearing.
1. The First Phase.
Jesus’ disappearing was vital. The Lord wasn’t trying to make headlines. He was trying to get His disciples to realize that He was with them and they must do the task set before them even if Jesus was not with them in the flesh. What was the task? It required much conviction! They were going into a church building program? The three and one half years that Jesus spent with them after His resurrection was for a particular task. The church was always in the heart of God. To the disciples it was a new thing and difficult for them to understand. The church was yet in the future. There was something that only the Lord could do. He was going to use the disciples in the process. The twelve were not selected because the Lord needed buddies or someone to pal around with. He had a job for them which was to build the church with Him.
When Jesus was on the cross He said, “ it is finished.” He was talking about the plan of redemption. He had established the foundation with which to build the church on. I Cor.3:11 “For no other foundation can lay than that which is already lain, which is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One.”
However, a building is not finished with only the foundation. It was only the beginning of the super structure of the church. He has laid the foundation and now it was time to get with finishing the building.
Jesus was with His disciples in the flesh for 3 ½ years. During that time it was preparatory work that only He could do. During that time He revealed what God was like as a person.
He made the perfect sacrifice for only He could die for the sins of the world. With the cross behind Him He sets about to do the bigger task. The cross behind Him a challenging
ministry lay before Him. It also was work that only He could do. His disciples were to take His place on earth while he supplied the supernatural power for the task. The church was to be a supernatural task.
Illustration: We all have a set of keys. Keys for the house, the car, the office, etc. We see them and we can hear them. They are physical keys to open doors. The keys that Jesus was talking about (v.19) were not physical keys. They were the keys of authority to admit
souls into heaven.
The church is in the supernatural business of bringing people into the church. The disciples were to perform the physical part. They were to win the lost by proclaiming the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. It seems simple but it was no menial task.
Those that would respond would be a part of the visible church. Jesus would apply the atonement to their souls and secure a place in heaven. What a glorious work!
3. Phase Three.
The church would be given the authority of loosing and binding. The Lord had already
done the work and gave the disciples the authority. He did the necessary loosing and
binding work Himself. He did that at Calvary. Therefore men would be saved or lost
depending upon whether they wanted to be loosed or continue bound in Satan’s grip.
How does that effect you and me? Listen, it’s not an easy job getting people into an
invisible church. It is a mysterious work. You do not learn it over night. That is why
Jesus was with the disciples for forty days after His resurrection. Acts 1:3. Jesus’
purpose in appearing and disappearing was geared to getting His disciples to act and
think beyond the flesh.
He had to implant three things in their minds:
1) He would return in the person of the Spirit to indwell in believers.
2) In sending the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost He would use the disciples and
equip them to do the greater work of building the church.
3) The only way members would be added to the church was by spiritual
baptism. I Cor. 12:13
In conclusion: The Lord endeavored to teach His disciples that when He would leave He
would send another Comforter which would be the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would
be with them and in them. (Acts 2:1-4).