On This … Rock
Matthew 16:13 through Matthew 16:28 (NIV)
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And 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. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
I. We Must Ask The Ultimate Question.
A. A Popular Question.
Every body is asking it. Who is this Son of Man? The reference was to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. the "Son of Man" was a title tied with Messianic expectations.
Daniel 7:13 through Daniel 7:14 (NIV)
13“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
In asking who the "Son of Man" is they do not all answer the question in the same way.
B. A Penetrating Question
The question goes from Who is the Son of Man? to Who is Jesus? Jesus is making the connection between himself and the Son of Man in Daniel 7. The question forces a closer investigation of who Jesus is according to Scripture.
C. A Personal Question
The focus shifts from what others say to the personal assessment of what do you say.
II. We Must Answer With The Ultimate Confession.
A. Through Divine Revelation
Divine inspiration was not believed by all of the Jews, but many understood this to be so. It takes more than simple study of the scriptures, but it also takes faith, which always starts with God.
God Is The Lion
It is a Masai elder who tells the story. It comes from the book, CHRISTIANITY REDISCOVERED, in which the Roman Catholic missionary, Vincent Donovan, shares his discoveries as he worked among Masai people in Tanzania, just south of
Kenya. Donovan had been working among the various communities of the Masai for many months. It was difficult work, and at times, his faith faltered. At one point, Donovan spoke with a Masai elder about the agony of belief and unbelief. In their conversation, the Masai elder pointed out that the word
Donovan had been using in Swahili to convey the word “faith” was not a very good word in their language. The word they were using for “faith” meant literally, “to agree to.” Donovan acknowledged that he knew the word was not a good one to translate the word “faith.”
The Masai elder said that to believe like that was similar to a white hunter shooting an animal from a great distance. Only his eyes and his finger got into it. The Masai elder then said that for one to really believe is more like a lion going after its prey. The
lion’s nose and ears sense the prey. He sniffs the air and locates it. Then he crouches, and slithers along the ground virtually invisible. We have never seen lions do this, but we have seen our cats. Same lineage, apparently. A cat thinks it becomes invisible as it stalks the prey. The lion gets into position, and when everything is optimum, the lion pounces. All the power of his body is involved and as the animal goes down, the lion envelopes it in his
arms, pulls it to himself, and makes it a part of himself. This, said the elder, is the way one believes, making faith a part of oneself!
Donovan nodded in complete agreement, almost overcome with the elder’s wisdom. But the elder was not done yet. The old Masai became thoughtful. Then he said to Donovan: “We did not search you out, Padri. We did not even want you to come to us. You
searched us out. You told us of the High God. You told us we must search for the High God. But we have not done this. Instead, the High God has searched us out and found us! All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God!”
---From a sermon by Norm Lawson, Central Protestant Church, Richland, Washington
B. The Church's Foundation
The confession of Peter as to the Messiah-ship and deity of the living God of Israel united in the person of Jesus is the basis for the church. it is upon this that it will be built.
C. An Indefensible Aggression
The Church is the aggressor in this picture with the Gates of Hell in the defensive posture.
On the East Coast there was a boy who spent many Summer hours on the shore working on intricate sand castles; whole cities would appear beneath his hands.
One year, for several days in a row, he was bothered by bullies who smashed his creations. Finally he tried an experiment: he placed cinder blocks, rocks, and chunks of concrete in the base of his castles. Then he built his sand kingdoms on top of the rocks.
When the local toughs appeared, he disappeared and watched from behind a sand dune as they swung their bare feet at his creations. You should have heard those bullies howl in pain. But from then on, because of the foundation, his sand castles were safe from those bullies.
Many people see the church in grave peril from a variety of dangers: secular humanism, worldliness, heresy, or plain old sin. They decry her condition and worry about her state. But they forget that the church is built upon a rock, a secure foundation — and that Rock is Christ . Therefore, not even the gates of hell can prevail against her.
----Matthew 7:24ff; Matthew 16:6ff; 1 Corinthians 10:4; cf 1 Peter 2:4-8
III. We Must Advance With The Ultimate Procession.
A. Following Self-Surrender
Give us up to the King.
“...let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24 Speaking to a group of college students, a missionary told of his experiences on a foreign field. He said that a day never went by that he wasn’t jeered as he preached the gospel on street corners. During religious holidays and festivals, vendors would be out selling religious artifacts and crosses. Hawking their wares, they would cry out, “Crosses! Cheap crosses for sale!” The missionary then challenged the students: “What about your cross? Is the cross you bear for the sake of our Lord only a cheap Cross?”
Heroism demands commitment
(1 Kings 8:54-61; Matt. 16:24-26)
Three military recruiters showed up to address high school seniors. Each recruiter—representing the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps—was to have fifteen minutes.
The Army and Navy recruiters got carried away, so when it came time for the Marine to speak, he had just two minutes. He walked up and stood utterly silent for a full sixty seconds, half of his time.
Then he said this: “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marine Corps. But I want to see those two or three immediately in the dining hall when we are dismissed.” He turned smartly and sat down.
When he arrived in the dining hall, those students interested in the Marines were a mob.
The recruiter knew that commitment comes from appealing to the heroic dimension in every heart.
--- W. Frank Harrington
B. Flowing Self-Sacrifice
As Jesus became a sacrifice on our behalf, our life will in turn be characterized by sacramental living, giving ourselves in behalf of others.
When Do I Die?
Five-year-old Mary was obliged to undergo an operation, and lost so much blood that it was necessary to resort to blood transfusion. The blood of thirteen-year-old brother Jimmy was found by test to match exactly the little patient’s.
“Will you give your sister some of your
blood, Jim?” asked the doctor. Jimmy set his teeth. “Yes, sir, if she
needs it.” He was prepared for the transfusion. In the midst of the
drawing of the blood, the doctor observed Jimmy growing paler and paler. “Are you ill, Jim?” he asked. “No, sir, but I’m wondering just when I’ll die.” “Die?” gasped the doctor. “Do you think people give their lives when they give a little blood?” “Yes, sir,” replied Jimmy. “And you are giving your life for Mary’s?” “Yes, sir,” replied Jimmy. Can you tell me of a finer heroism than this? -- From AMOS R. WELLS,
in Christian Herald. Sent by Eleanor L. Griffith, Rockland, Maine.
C. Full Soul-Salvation
The worth of the soul is greater than all that this world has to offer. To give up what the world has to offer in this life is nothing compared to the salvation of the soul eternal. (soul means a whole person)
In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate,
graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents
gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world's hurting people. Writing home, he said, "I'm going to give my life to prepare for the mission field."
When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: "No Reserves." Turning down high-paying job offers after graduating from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: "No Retreats."
Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month.
A waste, you say! Not in God's plan. In his Bible underneath the words "No Reserves" and "No Retreats," he had written the words "No Regrets."
I hope it is not a cheap cross you carry. I hope it conveys the full weight of the personal confession that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. A value that others can see as you sacrifice yourselves to its demands without reservation, without retreat, and without regret.