Probably not the most appropriate title for a post that was written in light of a study in the Word of God, eh? A dear friend and former student of mine invited me to join her as she followed the Holy Spirit’s promptings to ask Him about rocks and stones, like we used to do when she was playing basketball at Davidson College. But, every time I began to type that I was sharing about a rock study, I bust into sing the age old Whisper song, “We began to rock (oooh) steady…” Wow, this tangent has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to share. Let me get to the point instead, haha:
As Kayla inspired me to do so, I’ve been talking with God over the past few days about rocks and stones and the differences between which words He uses to describe each in the Bible. As I read and prayed through scripture, He pulled my heart to carefully consider Matthew 16:13-18. In this passage, Jesus asks the disciples who they said He was. It was Simon who boldly responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:16) Jesus gave the men an opportunity to take a foundational stand on the Truth, but no one was willing to confidently make the leap, rather offered suggestions as to what they had overheard. Knowing Simon’s heart, Jesus puts him on the spot and calls him up to the man He sees Simon to be. Jesus replies that His name would be Peter, and on “this” rock He would build His church.
When I see Peter, I perceive him to be an all or nothing kind of guy, full of zest, and most often overflowing with passion that required reprimand…
– [“Never shall You wash my feet!” Peter told Him. Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.””Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:8-9)]
– [Then Simon Peter drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11“Put your sword back in its sheath!” Jesus said to Peter. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me? (John 18:10-11)]
– [But Peter answered and said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away…. Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33, 35) “And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, “You, too, were with Jesus the Nazarene.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. (Mark 14:66-68)]
… Yet, the word “this” that Matthew chooses to use is the Greek word “touto,” referring to the nature or character of the preceding subject (Peter) and often in terms of approval or admiration. While we read that Simon was anything but Mr. Steady Eddy, God sees his firm confession of Jesus as Lord to be the basis of Peter’s identity. God sees Simon in the nature and character of Jesus just as our confession of Christ as Lord covers our lives. God looks at Peter and sees the righteousness of Christ, the Truth upon which He would build His church!
I don’t know about you, but this rocked my world! (Pun totally intended here, ha) How encouraging is it to know that no matter how I am feeling at the time, whether I’ve been extra obedient or am struggling with a particular sin, when I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, that is the basis for which God looks at me and judges me righteous. It’s not by my own work but His, I need only to continue to ask that the Lord “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) God can and will use you on mission to build his church here on earth, but the foundation will only and ever be Jesus Christ crucified for you and me.