Thursday 27 October 2022

Bible Book:

'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' (v. 16)

Matthew 16:13-27 Thursday 27 October 2022

Psalm 93


Today’s passage is a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. If you have been following our studies since the beginning of the month you’ll have learned a lot about Jesus. You’ll have listened to his parables and teaching, you’ll have watched as he performed so many miracles, you’ll have heard him respond to the criticism of others and seek to lead his disciples. All the while the hope of God’s coming kingdom, as spoken and sung about in the Hebrew scriptures, has been coming to life. Now Jesus takes the disciples away from the religious centres of Judaism and asks them what they think is actually happening.

Peter’s confession of Jesus as Christ (v. 16) cannot have been an easy one. After all the Jesus whom they followed and admired was the son of a carpenter and a local lad. Furthermore he was far more likely to criticise the leaders of the nation rather than gather them to his cause. So Peter needs to be applauded for daring to say what he and the other disciples must have wondered.

Jesus’ response is twofold. On the one hand he delights in Peter’s insight and affirms both its truth and its indestructibility. Jesus says Peter is the rock on which he will build his church. While it’s hard to know how Jesus’ disciples would have understood the word 'church', it’s clear that the first readers of Matthew’s Gospel, under great pressure for their allegiance to Jesus, would have drawn comfort and encouragement from these words.

On the other hand, Jesus immediately starts to help the disciples see that his messiahship is very different from what the had been brought up to expect. Talk of his own suffering and death was hard for the disciples to hear and so it’s not surprising that Peter sought to dissuade him. The sharpness of Jesus’ rebuke (v. 23) must have hurt Peter deeply, but it shows how vital Jesus’ own self-sacrifice was to his ministry and perhaps hints at the struggles that Jesus himself would have in the Garden of Gethsemane.


To Ponder:

  •  Jesus’ words to Peter, echoed in today’s hymn ('Glorious things of thee are spoken' Singing the Faith 748), claim that the Church of Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed. What does this mean in practice and does it carry any dangers?
  •  Jesus says “Those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (v. 25). How does this principle work out for you?


Help me, dear Lord, both to confess that you are the Christ and to walk in your ways.

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