Wednesday, 26 January 2011
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 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. 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.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Matthew 16:13-20 (NIV)
Lately in life I've been struggling with a lot of regrets I had in the past, feeling ashamed for mistakes I've made in the past -- and this has hindered my ability to hear God. I began to meditate intently seeking some kind of vindication in my life for the flaws in me; and this passage was brought to my attention. As I began to study the significance of this verse it became astoundingly clear exactly what Christ was saying, and how radical it was for the time.
First, lets take for a moment and think. Nothing in the bible is written as "fluff"; every word holds meaning and revelation -- so let's start in verse 13: When Jesus came to the region of "Caesarea Philippi" -- stop. Right off the bat we see that "When Jesus came" -- He was intentionally going to a place of significance before he questioned His disciples. That place was Caesarea Philippi; long story short it was a giant rock or cliff where pagan religions would hold orgies, mass suicides, sacrifices to their idols and false gods, etc. This was a biblical day Las Vegas. A pit of evil and vile practice. Tangible sin.
When He called to Simon and said, "I now call you Peter" (Peter is the Hebrew word for "Rock") This was in no way a compliment. He was comparing Simon Peter to the rock on which they stood. He was saying, "Hey Simon, you're a sinner. The biggest sinner here. And it's your sin that will be the driving force behind your ministry here on earth."
It asks in the bible, who loves Christ more: The person who has lived devote his entire life and has never committed more than a minor transgression; or the man who was lost in his way and needed to be ripped from them, and saved -- forgiven from an abundance of bad-doing.
If we never sinned, we wouldn't appreciate the sacrifice Christ made for us. Peter loved Christ more than any of the other disciples because he was saved, rescued, from the worst junk. He made the biggest mistakes, and he needed a savior more than he needed air to breathe. When Christ said to him, "Upon this rock I build my church" it wasn't resting on Peter's shoulders. No; He was saying that it was sinners that would come to spread His gospel. That it was the pagans, the atheists, the non-believers that would come to know Him as Lord and Savior.
The next time you find yourself lost in self-pity, or self-doubt -- the next time your laying around distraught over all the things you've done wrong in life and wished you could change -- just remember that it's those imperfection and flaws that make you a suitable vessel for the spirit of God to move. It's your testimony that holds power. Your witness that gives you the ability to lead others through their circumstances and through the storms that they face in life.
May you be blessed in your mistakes, may you find forgiveness in Christ, and the strength to forgive yourself -- to openly admit the wrongs you have committed in order to bring others closer to God. May you be passionate, and may you be the rock upon which Christ church is built.When has God used your imperfections as a catalyst for doing His work in the world? Is it comforting to know that Peter -- the rock -- was also just as imperfect as you?