Matthew 16 | Upon This Rock

by | Jan 13, 2020

 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15-16

I recall from my college marketing class, our professor taught about obtaining marketing data. Marketing, much like political polling, can be difficult to obtain factual answers from those people targeted for the survey. I remember him talking about a marketing surveying company working for one of the large automobile companies. They posed a simple question directed to the head of the household. For example: “What type of car would you like to purchase next time?” They would answer back; “Something practical and family oriented like a mini van or 4 door sedan.”  The second question the surveyor asked was the most important because they found it was statistically the correct answer for the first question. The second question asked: “What type of car does your neighbor prefer?”  Often the response was a ‘sports car’ or ‘four-wheel drive truck’ as the preference of their neighbor, which was actually their preference!

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus takes the direct opposite approach from the marketing model above. He starts out by asking “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples answered with the factual answers that they heard the people say. Some say ‘John the Baptist’ others say ‘Elijah’, ‘Jeremiah’ or one of the prophets. These answers were in line with the messianic expectations held in Israel (Deut. 18:15-18, Mal. 4:5). Jesus then personalized the question and asked: “But who do you say that I am?” (v15). Peter spoke up and said: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus then affirmed Peter’s answer and said that it wasn’t revealed by “flesh and blood” but by the Father in Heaven.

The first question I have is why was this revealed to Peter and not the group of disciples as a collective group? No doubt Peter spoke for the group, but the answer may be found in verse 18 when Jesus said “Peter, upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail (overpower it-NASB)”. For much of the early church period, Peter was the spokesman and leader of the apostles.

 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,”

Ephesians 2:19-20

It’s not that Peter had any more authority than the others, but he did take the lead at Pentecost and we see his leadership through the first 12 chapters of Acts (Acts 2:14, 3:12, 4:8, 10:44,11,2). The phrase “upon this rock” has been interpreted 3 ways. (1) Peter himself; (2) His confession; or (3) Christ and his teachings. Most scholars lean to the first option because this entire pronouncement is directed towards Peter. No doubt Peter played an important role in the early church.

The gospel (Christ’s finished work on the cross for payment of our sins, and his resurrection from the dead, so that we may live with him forever) is the way (keys) into the kingdom of heaven. Death, the final enemy (the gates of hell), will not prevail (over-power) against Christ’s church.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

Colossians 1:13-14