Summary: What possible meaning could Peter’s "good confession" have for what we should know and believe about Jesus?
OPEN: St. John’s University is apparently known for being a theological school where intellectualism is highly regarded. Someone wrote the following graffiti on one of the walls there:
Jesus said unto them: “Who do you say that I am?”
And they replied: “You are the escha-tological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.”
And Jesus said: “What?”
APPLY: Whoever wrote that graffiti – they were basically complaining about some of the names and expressions that men had invented to try to define who Jesus was.
Now… I can understand how hard it would be for men to come up with ONE specific definition for who Jesus is. After all, Billy Sunday once noted: “There are 256 names in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”
I. But there was one time when Jesus asked His disciples to give a name that would sum up ALL that He was.
Jesus asked them: “Who do others said that I am”… and they replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (Matthew 16:14)
But then Jesus said: “Who do YOU say that I am?” and ever faithful Peter responded: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)
Now, that was not a just a good answer… that was a great answer. Jesus literally slapped Peter on the back and exclaimed:
”Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 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.” (Matthew 16:17-18)
There are some who mistakenly believe that Jesus was saying that Peter was to be the foundation of His church. But of course, that couldn’t be true because Paul wrote: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Besides, Jesus was using a form of “word play” with Peter’s name. Peter (in the Greek) is also translated “little stone”… but the word Jesus used to describe the foundation upon which He’d build His church was a Greek word for a “huge boulder.” So, in essence, Jesus was telling Peter “you are a small stone, but upon this huge rock of your confession I’m going to build my church.”
The definition Peter gave of Jesus was the one that GOD wanted us to embrace. Jesus told him that he hadn’t arrived at this conclusion because he’d heard from someone else, but because he’d received it God Himself.
This profession of Peter’s has been so significant that many churches (such as ours) ask people to repeat that phrase when they are baptized into Christ or when they express a desire to become a member here.
Repeat after me: “I believe (echo) that Jesus is the Christ (echo) the Son of the Living God (echo)”
We’ve heard this phrase so often that we might be inclined to dismiss it as a religious creed that we can simply recite and then ignore. But there is actually a powerful meaning within those few words.