6 September 2020

Book: Matthew

All Sermons

He is Revealed by the Father

Bible Passage: Matthew 16:13-20

Just think about your own neighborhood for a moment, think of the people who live across the street from you and a few houses down. Who would they say Jesus is?

Like the family you know…young couple with two young children and the wife has terminal cancer. She puts on a good face that she is going to beat cancer, but based on her last Facebook post you know that she and her family are scared.

Or the family that seems to always have two new cars, they go to Disney every year, and their house is covered with Hobby Lobby decor that says “blessed.” For them the accumulation of things and living a fun life is what gives them security.

Or the couple whose marriage was on the rocks. You knew because they both would talk to you, separately of course, and they would both throw each other under the bus. And now they’re getting a divorce. It’s probably not surprising, but it is messy.

Who would these families say Jesus is? I am sure that their answers would be wide and varying. Maybe some see him at best as distant or even absent from their lives and at worst he is the cause of their pain and suffering. Maybe some of them haven’t had to really consider the question that much, because in their minds they have everything they already want and he seems to be giving it to them. Maybe he was a wise teacher, but his teaching bear little relevance to change anything about their circumstances. 

Jesus asked his disciples who people said he was. Their neighbors, the people across the road from them and a couple houses down and weren’t quite sure either. They knew there was something about Jesus, he was important, but at the end of the day he was just a prophet. He was just a messenger.

But then Jesus asked his disciples the same thing, “Who do YOU say I am?” If we are going to answer for our neighbors, we should probably answer the question for ourselves. And what I would expect is that you would answer right along with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Peter’s statement is bold. He makes it without hesitation and it is without qualification.

Fast forward 10 chapters and Peter found himself being cross examined by a servant girl while Jesus had been arrested and was being questioned by the Sanhedrin. ‘You were with him in Galilee,” she said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Peter said. Again she pressed him, “I don’t know the man.” “We hear your accent,” said some others. And then he called down curses and swore he didn’t know the man. 

How in all the world can the same person make a confession of faith like “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” go on to deny even knowing him? In order to answer that question all we need to do is examine ourselves. Are there certain words or actions in your life which betray the fact that you don’t always get the answer right? 

Are there times when Jesus seems more like a prophet than an actual Savior? After this sermon we’re going to use the words of the Nicene Creed to confess our faith. And you are going to say the words, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God?” So yes on the one hand we confess that and we do believe it, but at the same time who do you say Jesus is with the totality of your life? With your time? Your energy? With your other words?

And if we get our confession wrong sometimes maybe it is because we fail to understand the profound meaning of Peter’s Words. 

On our own we could never understand who Jesus is. He looks so ordinary. He talks like a man, walks like a man, eats like a man, and sleeps like a man. Of course he performed miracles which acts as signs pointing to the reality that he is more than a man, but as we have also seen those miracles weren’t universally convincing. 

After Peter made his confession Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” It had to be his flesh was too weak and his lips too hesitant for him to be able to come up with that statement on his own. It had to be revealed to him and there had to be power in those words.

The power of those words are evident because you are going to make that same confession and there are power in those words to convince you of its truthfulness. It’s the same power of the words in the Scriptures where there are men making similar confessions. Men like Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, Matthew, and the Apostle Paul are saying the same thing in their own way, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And those words have taken hold of the totality of your life so that what you may not otherwise realize you know full well.

Sometimes we want to brush past the statement, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” a little too quickly and if that is the case it makes sense why we struggle sometimes to make that confession with the totality of our lives. But Jesus who is the one sent by God to be the Savior of the World, Jesus who is the Son of the Living God, has come to redeem the totality of your life.

Certainly we want Jesus to be more than a spiritual Savior, we want him to fix our problems, remedy our hurts, and alleviate our troubles. But what Peter’s confession tells us is that he will. We begin to realize that Jesus came not to rescue us from symptoms but he came to rescue us from the core issue of sin. And so he came to walk and talk like us, to be one with us, so that he might rescue us. He came to die like us, so he could overcome death. He came to be forsaken by his Father, so that we can be forgiven. The Son of the Living God will return and when he does he will make all things right and the totality of your life will be redeemed because sin and all of its symptoms will be undone by the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

We look forward to this and we wait for it and waiting can be tough, but Jesus reminds us that this blessing which we look forward to has power to reach back into our lives right now. He high lighted to Peter two ways in which the reality of who he is has power among us right now. Here’s the first way, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God is the foundation of the Christian church. It is a rock solid foundation because relies solely on the life of Christ. Our foundation is the Savior God himself. And there is nothing more powerful than that. Not your conscience or death or sin or even the fury of hell itself can overcome it. 

Our church, Redemption, has been wrestling with the uncertainty of our own existence in the future. So let’s just imagine that Redemption has to close. Does that mean that Satan has won? Not at all. Hell cannot overcome the church, because the church is made up of people who make the exact confession that Peter has made. The church is people like you who have been connected with Christ. And because hell did not prevail over Christ, it will not prevail over us. You will always be Christ’s bride the church, after all that fact was sealed by his blood.

Do you see then how what we wait for actually reaches back into your life now? Though your life and the life of your neighbors may be filled with hardship and uncertainty, your present circumstances do not change your current identity. You are the church always connected to the reality of who Jesus is.

And this is not the only blessing. Here’s the second, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The keys are the power to forgive and to withhold forgiveness. By forgiving or withholding forgiveness you are opening the gate of heaven to someone or closing it.

Jesus was teaching in a house and it was packed. But there was a paralyzed man who had some friends and his friends knew they needed to get the paralyzed man before Jesus. So they cut a hole in the roof and lowered the man down to Jesus on a mat. But before Jesus healed him he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Immediately the Jewish religious elite were outraged. They thought Jesus had committed blasphemy. God only can forgive sins.

When I teach Catechism it’s inevitable at some point for a student to ask something like what the Jewish religious elite wondered, “How can you, pastor, forgive sins in church if only God can forgive sins” Every Sunday you confess and I forgive. How is that possible? Because Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. HE has granted to you his authority to forgive and when you forgive it is as if God himself forgives. 

Do you see how the future which we wait for has the power to reach back into your life right now? When you forgive your spouse it is as if Jesus forgives them because he rescued them from that sin. When you forgive your children it is as if Jesus forgives them. When you forgive your friend it is as if Jesus forgives them. When you receive forgiveness it is as if Jesus forgives you, yes even for having too small of a view of him.

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is the foundation on which we stand. He is the foundation which we need. He is the foundation who provides blessing for our lives today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen.