Jesus and his disciples headed west to the region of Caesarea Philippi. This is west of the Sea of Galilee and south of Mount Carmel. It was here that Jesus asked his disciples an interesting question.
Who do people say that I am?
There was a variety of answers. John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or other prophets were being mentioned by the people when they talked about Jesus.
Jesus reframed the question. Who do you say I am?
Peter spoke. If there is one thing that we can say about Peter, he will get out of the boat. Peter answers his Master.
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus noted that Peter—Simon son of Jonah—didn’t figure this out on his own. He marked this moment in these words.
“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.”
Peter—you are indeed what your name means—and on this rock I will build my church. On this God-given profession, Jesus pronounced that he will have a church and it will not be overcome by the forces of evil.
Jesus confirmed Peter’s revelation and further revealed that he would have many more disciples than these 12. In his church, heaven and earth come together.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven would be manifest in the church. The church would still stumble and require continual confession, but abundant life and eternal life would begin with the church.
After these revelations, Jesus instructed his disciples not to tell anyone. That’s got to be a tough pill to swallow for these disciples that have followed Jesus all over the Promised Land. Now that what they had suspected was confirmed by Jesus himself, they were instructed to keep that tidbit to themselves.
Put this in the his time had not yet come file.
Jesus promised the keys to the kingdom. That’s a metaphor for all eternity. The kingdom of heaven was opened to Peter and to us. God with us had made a way for us to be with God for eternity.
Our commission is not just to save people from eternal darkness but to bring them into eternal light. I’m stealing from John and preaching Matthew. The kingdom of heaven was opened to us. We might fully live. We might live in accord with God’s purpose for us.
Not only could we seek his kingdom and his righteousness, we could live there. We can live there. We have begun living there.
When it looks like the love of many has grown cold, remember the gates of hell will not overcome the church.
When people call evil good and good evil, remember the gates of hell will not overcome his church.
When the followers of Christ Jesus spend more time picking at other believers than they do sharing the love of God, remember, the gates of hell will not overcome this church.
So continue the work of the church. We have unfinished business. Don’t look at the darkness all around you. Don’t covet what others have. Don’t spend your best efforts criticizing how other believers live.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and trust in his promise that the gates of hell will not overcome his church.
And the gates of hell will not overcome it!