Matthew 16:13-18(HCSB)13 When Jesus came to the region 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, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.
We will focus briefly on this one verse. Jesus says to Peter:
Matthew 16:18(HCSB) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.
Jesus appears to be using a play on words. “You are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church.” Since Peter’s name means rock, and Jesus is going to build His church on a rock – it appears that Christ is linking the two together. God used Peter greatly in the foundation of the church. It was Peter who first proclaimed the Gospel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47). Peter was also the first to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48). In a sense, Peter was the rock “foundation” of the church.
But the rock is that Jesus was referring to was not Peter, but to Peter’s confession of faith in verse 16: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus had never explicitly taught Peter and the other disciples the fullness of His identity, and He recognized that God had opened Peter’s eyes and revealed to him who Jesus really was. His confession of Jesus as Messiah poured forth from him as a heartfelt declaration of Peter’s personal faith in Jesus. It is this personal faith in Christ which is the mark of the true Christian. Those who have placed their faith in Christ, as Peter did, are the church. Peter expresses this when he addressed the believers who had been dispersed around the ancient world in:
1 Peter 2:4-5(HCSB) 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
At this point, Jesus declares that God had revealed this truth to Peter. The word for “Peter,” Petros, means a small stone (John 1:42(HCSB)42 and he brought Simon to Jesus.When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”). Jesus used a play on words here with petra (“on this rock”) which means a foundation boulder, as in Matthew 7:24-25(HCSB)“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.
Peter himself uses the same imagery in his first epistle: the church is built of numerous small petros “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) who, like Peter, confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and those confessions of faith are the bedrock of the church.
Petra – Big Rock,Foundational Stone, Petros – Little Rock,building stones
In addition, the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Christ is both the foundation and the head.
Acts 4:11(HCSB)This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders,which has become the cornerstone 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”
1 Corinthians 3:11(HCSB)11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
and the head of the church, Ephesians 5:23(HCSB)23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. It is a mistake to think that here He is giving either of those roles to Peter. There is a sense in which the apostles played a foundational role in the building of the church Ephesians 2:20(HCSB)built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone., but the role of supremacy is reserved for Jesus Christ alone, not assigned to Peter. So, Jesus’ words here are best interpreted as a simple play on words in that a boulder-like truth came from the mouth of one who was called a small stone. And Christ Himself is called the “chief cornerstone”
1 Peter 2:6–7(HCSB) For it is contained in Scripture:Look! I lay a stone in Zion,a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! 7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected—this One has become the cornerstone,. The chief cornerstone of any building is the stone which the building was anchored.
Representing the apostles, Peter had spoken the foundational truth of the church: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And therefore he and all the apostles became, the foundation of the house of God—the church.
According to Ephesians 2:18-20(HCSB)18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone., And on this foundation of apostolic truth Jesus promises, “I will build my church.”
Lets break down these four comments about this spectacular promise: “I,” “will build,” “my,” “church.”
“I will build my church.” Who is this “I” who made this promise? Take this one scene in Revelation 4 and 5 as the answer: We are in heaven beholding the throne of God. In his hand is a scroll—the unfolding of the end of history and the destiny of the church of Christ. At first, no one is seen worthy to open the scroll. John cries that none is found. Then one the 24 elders says, Revelation 5:5(HCSB)“Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then the Jesus the Lamb, The Lion of Judah takes the scroll. And the elders and creatures around the throne sing,
Revelation 5:9-10(HCSB)You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.
One person is worthy to bring history to its appointed consummation—the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God who has a ransomed people in every ethnic group on the planet. And then two astonishing things happened: millions of angels and talking birds and horses and fish confirmed the greatness of Christ.
Revelation 5:11-14(HCSB)Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. 12 They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! 13 I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion
to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
This is the one who said, “I will build my church.” It is going to happen.
“I will build my church.” The church is not a building. It’s a people, with or without a building. But the Bible pictures this people sometimes as tree that grows and sometimes as a building that is built. The point is that this people has a builder, and the builder is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus builds the church.
How? By ripping down the gates that hold the human heart in hell-bent sin.
John Calvin said “Our hearts are idol factories” The beauty of living in the New Covenant is that we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us, empowering us to obey and cleansing us from our idols. Are we still tempted to worship things other than God? Sure. That’s why John tells his readers to keep themselves from idols.
1 John 5:19-21(HCSB) We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
“I will build my church.” God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). And not only us, but millions more scattered throughout the earth (John 11:52). And he has many people in this city (Acts 18:10)and He bought them by his own blood (Acts 20:28). And he will make them a kingdom and priests to his God. And they shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9). They will be his church. They are not their own. They are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). They are his. He will gather them. And build His church.
“I will build my church.” How did He build the church in the New Testament? Paul and the Apostles were Jesus’ instruments. Jesus built his church in Philippi, Ephesus, Galatia,Corinth, Asia Minor, Greece,etc. and He will build it in Houma. It is a thrilling thing to me that what we celebrating and supporting today is a church in the making. Not just a ministry. But a church: Revival Life Church being built by the Son of the living God out of hell-bent lives.
Remember this: Jesus does not promise that he will build his country club.He promises with absolute authority: I will build my church.
So when Jesus builds the Church He appoints “Overseers, Apostles and Prophets, Ephesians 2:20(HCSB) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.
He gives them a command “Feed My Sheep” Jesus Builds the church,He appoints leaders and tells them to Shepherd and feed His sheep.
Acts 20:28(HCSB)Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood
Jesus gave Peter a three-fold command to “feed my sheep” in
John 21:15-1715 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” He told him. 16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.
17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.
The three commands, although often translated the same way, are subtly different. The first time Jesus says it, the Greek means literally “feed (tend) the lambs” (v. 15). The Greek word for “feed” is in the present tense, denoting a continual action of tending, feeding and caring for animals. Believers are referred to as sheep throughout Scripture. “For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:7). Jesus is both our Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and the Door of the sheepfold (John 10:9). By describing His people as lambs, He is emphasizing their nature as immature and vulnerable and in need of tending and care.
The second time, the literal meaning is “Shepherd My sheep” (v. 16). In this conversation, Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them. This expresses the full scope of pastoral oversight, both in Peter’s future and in all those who would answer the call of pastoral ministry. Peter follows Jesus’ example and repeats this same Greek word poimaino in his first pastoral letter to the elders of the churches of Asia Minor: 1 Peter 5:2-3(NLT)Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly–not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
The third time, the literal translation is “Feed (tend) the sheep” (v. 17). Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest lambs to the full-grown sheep, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity.
What is this food with which shepherds are to feed the flock of God? It is the Word of God. Peter declares that Christians are to desire the pure spiritual milk of the Word so that by it, we can mature in our salvation
1 Peter 2:2(HCSB) Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation,. As early as the book of Deuteronomy, we see the Lord describing His Word as food for His people who live not by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from His mouth Deuteronomy 8:3(HCSB) He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus tells this to Satan in His temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). The importance of the Word of God as food for our souls cannot be over-emphasized.
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul identifies shepherding “pastors” as one function in the Church along with teaching, missionary work, evangelism, and prophecy. That this role is important is seen by the emphasis that Jesus puts on it in John 21:15–17. How is a pastor/shepherd supposed to feed and tend the flock of God? He does this by being able to teach the flock the word of God (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9) to bring the flock into maturity, and to be resistant to heresy. He is to be on guard for false teachers and warns those who stray that there are consequences to their belief and behavior.
A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects–responsibilities that belong to every church leader. Jesus is the perfect example of a loving shepherd. He is a perfect example of everything that a spiritual leader should be. Peter called Him the “Chief Shepherd”. He is our great Rescuer, Leader, Guardian, Protector, and Comforter.
Pastors and Church leaders are undershepherds who guard the flock under the Chief Shepherd’s watchful eye (Acts 20:28). Theirs is a full-time responsibility because they minister to people who, like sheep, often are vulnerable, defenseless, undiscerning, and prone to stray.
Shepherding the flock of God is an enormous task, but to faithful pastors it brings the rich reward of the unfading crown of glory, which will be awarded by the Chief Shepherd Himself at His appearing 1 Peter 5:4(HCSB)And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Hebrews 13:17(HCSB)17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.