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Upon this Rock

Let us first note that God, in the O.T. is spoken of as a Rock. "...who is a rock save our God" (Ps. 118:31);. "He is the Rock" (De. 32:4), and "the Rock of salvation" (De. 32:15).

Reading from the NKJV: Mt. 16:13, "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Consider this question in light of the earthly ministry of Jesus. This took place about midway into His third year of ministry, the year of opposition. People had heard Him preach the kingdom of God, had seen Him perform many miracles, heal the sick, and raise the dead. He had had numerous encounters with the Sadducees and the Pharisees. People had had two and one half years to evaluate His ministry and ponder Who He really was. Now the question to His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" For us today, we would ask, "who does the 'man on the street' say that Jesus is?" - not was, but IS today?

V. 14- 17, "So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, "But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Jesus meant that Peter did not receive this revelation from a mortal human being or through natural reasoning but by the Spirit of God, of the heavenly or spiritual realm.

V.. 18. "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail (margin: be victorious) against it." From Jn. 1:42, "you are Simon the son of Jonah, you shall be called Cephas (which translated, A Stone (Petros)."P> To fully understand Jesus' play on the word "rock", we must seek the Greek to get the true meaning, or we will end up in confusion. This is the key verse of this discourse. The Amplified Bible explicitly brings out the Greek: "And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros, masculine, a large piece of rock], and on this rock [petra, feminine, a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it - or be strong to its detriment, or hold out against it.". Hades or the grave shall not have power to retain its captives, because Christ holds the keys to those gates and they shall not be strong enough to triumph (Companion Bible). Resurrection is the greatest truth asserted here.

Wuest translation: "...You are Rock [petros, masculine in gender, a detached but large fragment of rock], and upon this massive rock [petra, feminine in gender, feminine demonstrative pronoun cannot go back to masculine petros; petra, a rocky peak, a massive rock] I will build my Church."
In this verse we have one of three places in the N.T. where the word "THIS" refers back to the speaker. In Jn. 2:19, Jesus said, "destroy THIS temple ..." (referring to Himself) and in Jn. 6:58, Jesus declared, "THIS is that bread that came down from heaven..."

V.. 19-20- "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ." What are the keys to the kingdom? They are knowledge and understanding (especially of spiritual truths and as they apply to our spiritual and natural lives).

From v. 20, "tell no man....".. Why did He instruct them to tell no man? Because the average person would not and could not understand this; he would ridicule them and laugh them to scorn. Remember, Jesus spoke to the masses in parables. As today, the natural man cannot understand the true identity of Jesus, The Christ (The Anointed) (1 Co. 2:14). They ridicule and make fun of Christians and of Christian value systems, certainly they don't understand that Jesus now lives as the Christ in the heart of believers or that He is more than a historical figure, that He is the Son of God. He is revealed by the Spirit of God. Today you cannot preach the deeper truths of the kingdom to the masses, to the man on the street. They would either ignore you or ridicule you..

Was Jesus the Christ, the Anointed? In Lu. 2:25-26 we read of Simeon, when Jesus as baby was presented in the Temple before the Lord. "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ."

John the Baptist declared of Jesus, "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:34, 36). Let everything be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. The Lord Jesus Christ is both the foundation, the Chief Corner Stone and the builder of His church, the Ecclesia, the called out ones.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the FOUNDATION, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it For no other FOUNDATION can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST" (l Co. 3:10-11).

This speaks of building as a process, a progression. From v. 12, "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; ..." To build on gold or silver is to teach sound doctrine and live a life of truth., To build on hay and straw is to build on unsound teaching or to compromise the truth or to live a life style that contradicts the truth.

Speaking of fellow citizens with the saints, Paul wrote to the Ephesians concerning Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. Ep. 2:20-22, " having been built on the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNER STONE, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Mt. 21:42; Is. 28:16).

Ro. 9:32-33. " For they (Israel) stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Natural Israel stumbled over Jesus Christ and what He taught. He was in their midst and had they properly interpreted the scriptures (O.T.) would have known Him. But they rejected Him as the Messiah. They rejected Who He said He was. They didn't believe it, couldn't conceive it and wouldn't receive it. They rejected and killed the prophets and were about to kill Him. (Mt. 23:34; 21::33-38). They expected Him to be born in a king's palace and to set up a natural kingdom to conquer the Romans. While they followed religious tradition, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God and dealt with reality.

From v. 33, "a rock of offense": He was offensive to the natural Jews, partly because He revealed their hypocrisy and their sins (Mt. 23:13-27 ). Today Jesus Christ and all that He stands for is offensive to the secular world. Living by faith in Christ is offensive to unbelievers. The rejection of prayer in public schools, and the general rejection and open discrimination against the value systems of Christians by the secular world and by the liberal media is evidence that Jesus Christ, the Rock, is offensive to them. His Word is offensive to the world because it exposes their sin and sinful nature.

We have now established that Jesus is the Foundation Rock. Now what do we do with that truth? Basic to walking victoriously in the Kingdom is building our lives on that Foundation Rock.

Reading from Lu. 6:47-49 NKJV, "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently (Gr.: rupture) against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."

Notice first that both heard the Word. It's not enough to just hear (or read) the Word, or to even hear the still small voice within you. We must OBEY what the Word says. What is that house we build? It's our entire life, our spirit soul, and body. It's our life style, the way we act and react, even our very thoughts and the way we think, how we respond to God.. Each individual is responsible to build his own house, his own life - of course, under the guidance and direction of The Holy Spirit.

Building speaks of a process, progression. The Kingdom walk or life is active, not passive. Now is the time to build our spiritual houses instead of putting it off to the future (Hag. 1:1-11). Notice that the floods and storms came to both but it was not the storms that did the one in. It was the lack of doing the Word. The revelation of Jesus Christ the Rock, to a people and who obey His word (a spiritual mature person) is what is building the Kingdom.

Building on the foundation speaks of a relationship - between you and Jesus Christ. The man who digs deep digs down to bed rock (foundation), as one would build a bridge or a large commercial building. The one who digs deep hears a word or sermon, digs deep into its meaning, studies, meditates, and allows God to speak to him in how to apply it in building his life. The other person hears the same word, takes a verse and runs with it, applying it out of context.

Building a house on the earth or sand speaks of building our life on the traditions of men, on the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1), the doctrines of the carnal mind, on selfish desires, on humanistic value systems, and the philosophies and ideas of man.

Who do YOU say Jesus is? Is He just an historical figure? - Or someone for the future? For those of the 30 fold realm He is (or should be) their Savior, for the 60 fold, Baptizer, for the 100 fold, King of kings and Lord of lords. Is He Christ in you, the hope of glory? Is He Who He says He is, the Son of the Living God? Until He is revealed in a people by the Holy Spirit, He abides alone.

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