For the last month, I have been stuck in Matthew 16. I say stuck, which is probably not the best word, but I have been unable to leave this passage of scripture. There is so much in this chapter that shares with us who we the church are to be and what it is that we are to be doing. Jesus has had a debate with the religious leaders who have been trying to trap Him, and I see that it is still on His mind by the time we get to verse 13. Jesus is sitting with the disciples overlooking Caesarea Philippi when He asks the question, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” Now it is important for us to see that Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of man and not the Son of God. He has yet to identify Himself as anything other than the Son of Man. The disciples began to share with Him the view of the people saying that most believe He is a prophet. Jesus then asks a follow-up question which I feel was what He was after, and that was who do you say that I am? Without hesitation, Peter, as if he has been thinking of his response even before the question says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Now what is important to note is that Peter identifies Jesus with something that Jesus had not yet revealed to them. Through a divine revelation, Peter comes to understand the identity of Jesus. The revelation is so powerful that it forever changes Peter, who before this was called Simon.
Now from this revelation of Peter, Jesus begins to lay out the foundation of what the church is to be. For the first time, Jesus uses the word εκκλνοια (ecclesia) or church. Now for us, the word church is a very religious word, but on that day, it meant something very different. The phrase ecclesia was used in referring to a Rome government building placed within the mist of a foreign community. The people of the ecclesia were Romans that were to influence their community and make it Roman. No doubt that there was one or more Roman ecclesia in the region where Jesus was preaching. So, Jesus is saying that I will build “My ecclesia” on this revelation of who I am, and the gates of hell will not prevail. What we need to know is that the church is the embassy of the kingdom of God, and our responsibility is to influence our community so that it begins to look like the Kingdom of God. Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, the Kingdom of God is to be established here on earth, and that is the job of the church. The church should be making the culture look more like the Kingdom of God rather than the culture making the church look more like the Kingdom of Man.
Jesus says I will give you the “keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” and then tells them that they will have the power to bind and lose things. Keys in the ancient time represented access to God and the spiritual realm. They were given as a sign of authority. Jesus says to Peter, who has had this revelation that I will give you these keys. So we see where the revelation of who Jesus indeed was brought with it the gift of authority. The receiving of the revelation allowed access to enter into a place where the authority of God operated through the church (church meaning people of God). There is a link between revelation of Jesus and walking in the authority of Jesus. So many in the church today want to walk in authority, they want to rebuke things, and they want to lose blessings, but the problem is that they are seeking to do it without having a revelation of who Jesus is. The church has to come to understand that Public Authority does not come unless there has been a private revelation. You will never walk in the authority of Christ if you do not have a personal relationship where He is sharing with you who He is. Peter had the revelation, and then Jesus shared the authority. Many churches seem to lack power, and the problem is not that they do not have the stuff, it is that they do not have a more profound revelation of who Jesus is. Deep will never cry out to shallow. The deeper you go in Jesus, the deeper you dig, the harder you pursue Him, the more authority He will entrust to you.
Let me show you one more way. After this conversation, we come to verse 21 where it says “From this time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.” Notice it says, “from this time.” In other words, Jesus could not reveal this to them before because they did not have revelation of Him. Revelation of who Jesus is bring with it a revelation of purpose for the church and us as individuals. Many in the church and many churches have lost their identity because they do not know who Jesus is. They have stopped seeking a deeper revelation of Jesus, and therefore, they find themselves speaking as if they had authority and purpose, but the truth is that it is not Godly authority nor Godly purpose.
As Christian, we must seek to know Jesus is a more powerful way, and we must take long to have a personal relationship with Him. We cannot be satisfied with a Sunday come to meeting relationship, but we have to have one that is constantly seeking a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. When this happens, it will open all things in our life.