11 November 2011

Matthew 16:13-20

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." (v. 18)


It took a long time for Simon Peter to get to this point. It began when he was a boy, being brought up in a Jewish community learning the stories and traditions, and, sharing in the festivals and the worship. Then, in adulthood, he made an impulsive but key decision to follow Jesus. He left his nets and his business behind (Matthew 4:18-20) and started to learn from a wise sage, maybe even a prophet. In those few short years he witnessed so much more; he saw and heard things that blew his mind and now he was in a different place.

Shaped and formed by the stories of his community; the decision to follow Jesus; the witnessing of wondrous things; the hearing of a different kind of teaching - these were the paths that led Simon Peter to this moment. Now, even if he was yet to fully realise what it meant, he could declare "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (v. 16).

And, we are told that he will be the rock on which the church is built. In Greek (the language the Gospel was written in) the word for stone is 'petra' and the word for Peter is 'Petros'. In Aramaic (the language the disciples probably spoke) the word 'kepha' means both Peter and stone.

In a moment of poetry Matthew wants every reader to know that Simon Peter, the one who has journeyed to this point of faith will be pivotal in the shaping and forming of a new community.

And so, built upon Peter's example, the Church is shaped by the stories it tells, its desire to follow Jesus, its witnessing of extraordinary things and its capacity to hear a different kind of teaching.

Perhaps if the Church can remain true to that calling ... a new world may emerge.

To Ponder

What stories does your church tell? To what extent does it tell the story of a church in the past? Or a church with a past?

What amazing things have you witnessed? And what do you want to tell others about them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Simon Sutcliffe

Simon Sutcliffe is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church currently working part time as the tutor for evangelism and church growth at Queen's Foundation, Birmingham and part time as a pioneer minister with Venture FX establishing new forms of Christian community in the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District. Simon has four children who help to keep him grounded and in a constant cycle of tidying up(!), and is deeply disappointed that none of them support Bradford City..