Text: Matthew 16:13-20
For the Church in her struggles
For the Church in her glory
For those who mine the earth
YOU ARE PETER! This famous phrase, used as proof text against the Lutherans by Rome, has been argued over for centuries in the Church. In retort, the Lutherans and other Protestants said that the faith of Peter—the Rocky of his day—was the point; it was trust that was the stony foundation, and therefore available to any believer.
Without agreeing to the historical hoops that have to be cleared to get from Peter to the Pope, I do think that there is more to the idea that Peter himself is the point, rather than simply his exuberant declaration. In part it is because it is Jesus himself who is the rock, the solid stone foundation of our faith. As we discussed yesterday, we have no reason at all to add to Jesus any other foundational principle. All our grand theories, sensible standards and passionate goals will come under the shadow and be brought low.
The other part of my reasoning is that Jesus is not simply Messiah, the Son of God for himself, but rather for our salvation. Again, it is not our theories about God that matter in the end—it is, as Luther says over and over, that Jesus Christ is for us. Jesus comes to us, Jesus clothes us, Jesus washes us, Jesus is pressed into our empty hands, Jesus refreshes our parched throats.
In that sense Peter matters: anytime and every time the disciples were ready to give up they could look at Peter and know that they all had been called into a wonderful relationship because he was there, as solid and real as any rock. As time went on and the message spread, others could say “this is no theory, because we are here, and we are real.” When persecution became fierce; when Peter himself was executed; when the small band of believers were forced underground; over and over again, even to this very day when parishes and congregations are tempted to look at one another and say “we are too few, we have no energy, we have no future” then we can remember that we are not alone, that because of Jesus Christ we matter, and because of him we can accomplish the great things of the kingdom.
Let the gates of hell tremble.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks