For July 26, 2020
In Matthew 16:13-18 (NIV), at Galilee near Caesarea Philippi, the Lord asks His Disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” His Disciples’ responses were varied, “Some say that you are John the Baptist; others say you are Elijah; still others say that you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Never concerned with public opinion, Jesus asks more direct and extremely personal questions, (“But what about you?” he asks.) “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s response, although impulsive, revealed his understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ, “You are the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah) the Son of the Living God!” With this, our Lord asserts and affirms Peter’s declaration (my emphasis),
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in Heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:17-18 (NIV)
I am glad Jesus Christ is never concerned about satisfying the public’s opinion regarding His identity. Even today, some refer to Him as a prophet or a great teacher; others say He was a good man who died a horrible death on a cross.
I’ve heard the “Who is Jesus?” question in this form, “How can anyone believe in a dead man’s religion?”
Those who ask this question see Jesus only through the “Son of Man” prism where He dies on Calvary’s Cross one tragic Good Friday afternoon. And if His death was all we knew about Jesus Christ, then we would be “most miserable!” as 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) tells us.
Praise the Lord! Death does not encompass all we know of Jesus Christ!
He is also the “Son of God,” who rose from the dead and walked out of the grave victorious that Easter Sunday morning; leaving us an empty tomb as a permanent reminder of His vicarious redemptive work—yet applicable today to reconcile us back to God—through our faith in Him.
As we acknowledge both facts (i.e., Jesus’ death and resurrection) equally and objectively, everything about Him as the God-man becomes crystal clear as this author observes,
If God did become man, who or what would He be like? He would possess the attributes of God, He would have an unusual entrance into this world, He would perform feats of the supernatural, He would be sinless; a lasting and universal impression would be left by Him. God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and in Jesus we see manifest the attributes of God and the characteristics that would accompany a God-man.
Jesus Christ is more than just some obscure historical figure who suffered a tragic death on a cross. We can know Him not just as our Mediator and Redeemer, but also as our Great God and Mighty King.
Moreover, Peter’s acknowledgement denotes our Lord as the Anointed One, the Messiah, God’s Redeemer foretold of by the prophets centuries before His birth. Our Lord affirms Peter’s testimony while safeguarding His followers forever, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it!” Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
The Greek word Jesus uses for church is ekklesia (Strong 1577), which combines two Greek words, ek (Strong 1537), a preposition that denotes movement “from out of something to something,” and kaleo (Strong 2564), “to call or summon someone.”
As Believers in and Followers of Jesus Christ, we have been “called out” of the world to occupy His glorious Kingdom, represented by His visible New Testament Church as Peter further attests (my emphasis),
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
In this New Testament Age, we are a congregation of Believers in Jesus Christ—whether a local assembly or the Church Universal (vis-à-vis the Bride of Christ)—who gather regularly for worship, reading and hearing the Word of God (Bible), singing songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, for prayer, fellowship, and service, to observe the Ordinances of Christ, and otherwise participate in every means of grace necessary for our spiritual life and nourishment at our disposal.
Recently, there have been futile attempts to impose civil regulations to disrupt the church’s operations, discourage its membership, and disband its rights and privileges vouchsafed by our Lord. From its inception until now, Church persecution has been a tragic reality and can be expected. Yet the Bible teaches our Lord secures our ultimate victory as well as the demise of the wicked,
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for He seeth that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him. Psalm 37:12-15, 33-40 (KJV)
There is an old familiar hymn that illustrates how our Great God and Savior attends to His Church Universal—personally,
I Love Thy Kingdom Lord
I love Thy kingdom, Lord! The house of Thine abode—the church our blest Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God! Her walls before Thee stand, dear as the apple of Thine eye, And graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall, For her my prayers ascend—To her my cares and toils be giv’n, ‘Til toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy I prize her heav’nly ways—Her sweet communion, solemn vows, Her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou Friend divine, our Savior and our King—Thy hand from ev’ry snare and foe, shall great deliv’rance bring.
Sure as Thy truth shall last, To Zion shall be giv’n, The brightest glories earth can yield, And brighter bliss of heav’n.
It is amazing how our great God and Savior is not too big to care for each of us individually. Yet He remains small enough to care for us personally as well. This is so that He can establish an intimacy with us that lasts forever.
Won’t you give Him your all today? Be encouraged blessed Church, God’s got your back!
What a Wonderful Savior!