Keys to the Kingdom

Matthew 16:13–23 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 8:27-33; Luke 9:18-22)

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Who is Jesus? In this discussion with His disciples, Jesus asks this question. He starts by asking what people say about Him, then turns His question to the disciples. Peter responds beautifully, calling Him the Christ. Jesus responds with admiration, giving Peter credit for hearing from God the Father and thinking spiritually. One of the keys to the Kingdom is to know and understand Who Jesus is. Once we understand that, we can truly be a disciple.

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

Jesus goes a step further and prophecies over Peter a particular blessing. He reminds him of the meaning of his name, Peter. Peter translates as “rock” and in this explanation explains the foundational role that Peter will play in the early church. The Roman Catholic Church names Peter as its first pope. He was a leader in the early church Biblically. There is no doubt that Peter is a pivotal figure in the New Testament church. Other interpretations posit the thought that the rock upon which Jesus would build His church would be the faith of the church given through Jesus’ teaching, or else the structure or organization of the church. Finally, some believe Peter’s confession of Jesus as Christ is the rock on which the church will be built. Whatever interpretation is valid here, the truth that speaks most strongly is that the church will be stable, secure, and firm. The powers of hell will not prevail against it. The church will also be placed in the hands of the people within it, and they will have authority over all things. The keys to the kingdom will be given to the church, and they will unlock power, authority, and blessing. The church is strong and able to thrive. Live in that truth and take ground for the church and its Christ!

21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus then shifts His focus to information relating to His passion. Jesus will go to Jerusalem, be tried and killed, and then raise the third day. Peter, perhaps feeling his newly christened authority, takes Jesus aside and scolds Him, saying that this fate cannot be. Jesus, just moments after telling Peter he would be part of the foundation of the church, calls him Satan. While He was likely speaking to the demon who would influence Peter to make such a statement, it is still a stark contrast from the hopeful prophecy over Peter just a few verses before this. Did Peter lost his favored position that quickly? Certainly not! However, Jesus continues to teach and transform His leaders into the people He knows they can and will be with His anointing and help. God is calling you! He knows what potential you have, for He placed it within you. You can be a rock, a foundation stone, but Jesus will lead you into that role, perhaps rebuking you along the way as needed. Do not be offended when Jesus corrects you. Simply take it as a step along the way to fulfilling your calling in His great plan. Take the keys to the kingdom and open the doors God is placing before you!

Artwork from https://www.hearthymn.com/Jesus-Christ-gives-peter-the-keys-of-the-kingdom-matthew-16-19.html

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