Wednesday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

Who Do Men Say That the Son of Man Is, Continued

There is so much in this passage that I cannot stop with just one devotion.  Yesterday, we confessed with Peter and the rest of the disciples that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, knowing better than Peter what those words mean since we have the benefit of living on this side of the cross.  Today, we must discuss the rest of the passage, at least as it is reported in Matthew’s gospel.  Incidentally, it is intriguing that the gospel written by John Mark, who according to well-attested tradition was Peter’s assistant (thus indicating that much of Mark’s gospel probably came from Peter’s own mouth), does not record that part of the passage which we cover today.

First, Jesus informs Simon Peter how blessed he is to know that he is the Christ, because this is not something that Simon Peter figured out on his own but was revealed to him by “my Father who is in heaven.”  And this is true for anyone who professes saving faith in Christ – such a profession comes from the conviction that one has in one’s heart that Jesus is the Christ, a conviction which is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.  Second, in what is a contested passage, Jesus tells Simon Peter that he is Petros (stone) and on this petra (rock), Christ will build his Church.  There is certainly a relationship between the two Greek words, but that the Apostle Peter is somehow the “rock” upon which Christ built his Church certainly does not accord with the rest of Scripture in which Christ himself is called the “cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).  It makes more sense that the “rock” is the confession that Peter made about Jesus; that is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” certainly the profession of faith upon which the Church of Jesus Christ is built.

Finally, and so comforting, Jesus promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church.  This Church is so powerful, she even has the power, in fidelity to God’s word, to pronounce forgiveness over someone or withhold it.  Fidelity to God’s word means that the Church can say nothing that does not agree with Scripture.  Specifically, a church body cannot withhold forgiveness from a member of that body who truly repents and asks forgiveness.  At the same time, a church body cannot proclaim forgiveness over someone who has not repented; that is, the church, universal or local, has no authority to call that which the Bible calls a sin not a sin, nor to call that which the Bible calls not a sin a sin, changes in the surrounding culture, notwithstanding.  This requires church discipline, sorely missing in our day.  It is a dreadful power, but one we cannot forgo but at the risk of souls.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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