08/24/14 Sermon (August 24, 2014)

posted Nov 6, 2014, 12:05 PM by David Hawkins

“On This Rock”

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still 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 Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 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 sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Sermon Outline: “On this Rock”

“Who do people say I am”

  • Good for Presbyterians.
  • An academic question.
  • Abstract. From a distance. Third person.
  • Such and such says this.
  • So and so says that.
  • Calvin, Luther, the Pope.

Talk about Presbyterians

  • about the desire for Presbyterian Clergy to be educated.
  • Talk about seminary, about the reading, the constant reading about what other people had to say about Jesus.
  • Talk about our church’s emphasis on education, the Grace Scholarship, etc.

“Some say John the Baptist”

  • Calling people to repentance.
  • Pointing out sin.
  • Pointing ahead to the coming of God.
  • Reminding religious leaders of their responsibility
  • Reminding religious leaders of their hypocrisy.
  • Calling people out of their complacency.
  • We know people who think of Jesus in this way
  • We know churches who think of Jesus in this way
  • This partly describes Jesus

“Some say Elijah.”

  • Not the Messiah, but the one who would precede the Messiah
  • Announces the day of the Lord.
  • Symbol of the Last Days
  • Revelation, apocalypse, armageddon
  • Without Elijah, there is no Christ, there is no Messiah
  • We know people who think of Jesus in this way
  • We know churches who think of Jesus in this way
  • This partly describes Jesus

“Some say Jeremiah,

  • Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations, the songs of sorrow.
  • Jeremiah, the prophet who bitterly complained to God as Israel was over run and taken into Babylonian captivity.

“...or another prophet.”

  • Other prophets, who spoke of the necessity to remember the widows, the orphans,
  • To remember the worship of God, rather than local idols.
    We know people who think of Jesus in this way
  • We know churches who think of Jesus in this way
  • This partly describes Jesus

But then Jesus turns to Simon

  • “One who listens”
  • The disciples have listened to Jesus for some time now

“But who do YOU say I am?”

  • Now it’s time to talk
  • Jesus puts Simon on the hot seat
  • He doesn’t want to hear what other people say.
  • He wants to hear what Simon says.
  • And Simon says...

“You are the Messiah...”

  • The annointed one.
  • The Christ
  • Jesus is the one who is sent by God to deliver his people
  • But that’s not all

“...you are the son of God”

  • We don’t really know what this means.
  • Simon really has no other words to use
  • Not John, not Elijah, not Jeremiah
  • Jesus is something beyond Simon’s experience

“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you”

  • Simon did not come up with this on his own
  • It was not a result of rational thought
  • Not a result of passionate evangelism
  • It was not a decision on Simon’s part
  • It was a gift from God

“You are no longer Simon, but Peter”

  • The answer to “who do you say I am?” changes everything
  • Simon ‘The Listener’ become Peter ‘The Rock’

“On this rock, I will build my church”

  • When Simon stutters the only words that he can to describe Jesus, he is changed from someone who sits on the sidelines into the rock of the church.

How do we talk about Jesus?

  • 3rd person? Academic? Abstract? Philosophic?
  • Do we talk about who was Jesus, or who is Jesus?
  • It’s a hard question
  • Talk about Albert Schweitzer, Doctor, medical missionary, organist, and theologian.
  • The quest for the historical Jesus.
  • Like peering into a deep well, and mistaking the image that we see there at the bottom for that of Jesus Christ.
  • Just like the people in our Scripture, we risk thinking of Jesus in way that suits our own hopes, dreams, desires, fears, hang-ups.

Who do we say Jesus is?

  • Talk about writing statements of faith in seminary
  • Is Jesus John the Baptist”
  • Is Jesus Elijah?
  • Is Jesus Jeremiah or another prophet?

Is Jesus something else?

  • Is Jesus the Messiah, for us?
  • Is Jesus the son of God?
  • Are we able to confess  that Jesus is the son of God?
  • That we really don’t know who Jesus is at all?

Jesus is outside our experience.

  • We can’t compare Jesus to anyone, or anything we already know.
  • But that’s OK
  • Our confession that we really don’t know who Jesus is, but that he is the one who delivers us is the the foundation of our faith.
  • And it’s not something that we come up with on our own.
  • This realization is given to us by God.
  • And it changes us from listeners to disciples.
  • It’s a confession that makes us into the church.


“People say all kinds of things about Jesus. There are all kinds of answers to the question, “Who is this Jesus person?”

But there’s only one answer that matters to Jesus. And that’s your answer. Your own private, personal answer. And the answer to that question changes everything.

Thanks be to God, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.