"When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They answered, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but 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 overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven." Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." (Matt. 16:13-21)
I look around me today and I see fear everywhere. Bombings and destruction, burning and murders, viruses and rebellion. People are afraid. The Church is afraid - of persecution, of violence, of losing our political freedom to worship.
And the proposed solutions being given to these fears – are they what Jesus says is the rock of the Church? “You are the Christ – the son of the living God.” Our hope and expectation of good, our comfort and our peace, is not grounded upon the political liberties, the stability of our buildings or meeting times, the peaceful conditions of our cities or our families. In fact, after Jesus made this great promise, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” he went on, reports Matthew, to explain that he would be rejected by the social and religious and political powers, suffer at their hands in many ways, and then be killed.
It was not in the protection from these things that the Church is built, but in that last promise – on the third day he was raised. The gates of Hades could not overcome him, and the gates of Hades, the sufferings and the little deaths of our dreams and of our comforts and of our buildings and crosses and parking lots and homes and jobs, cannot overcome His resurrecting power.
And the Church will not be built with guns, with violence, with the defeat of political parties or persons, but because Jesus Christ builds it upon the confession, "You are the Christ - the son of the living God." The Holy Spirit blows where He wishes and raises dead hearts to life, opens the blinded eyes to behold Jesus as the Restorer and the Lord. Our hope is built on nothing less than this, on Jesus' blood and righteousness. We dare not trust the sweetest frames, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Our power is in the Christ, the son of the living God, who sits enthroned at the right hand of God over all of Creation, without failing to accomplish all that God has ordained to do in the kind intention of His will towards us who believe in Him.
The Church will endure, my friends. You live, because He lives. He will build His Church, and nothing can stop Him from doing so.
"Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we remember the name of Yahweh our God." (Psalm 20:7)