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 (Ekklesia), 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. From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Jesus’ ‘Ekklesia’ is going to be built on the foundation of Peter’s confession; that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus has built, and continues to build, His people around the truth of Him. The Ekklesia is a gathering of people or an assembly. Whenever His people gather in His Name, Jesus promised that He be there in the midst of them. “Whenever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am…” (Matthew 18:20)
On the heels of such a victorious declaration (…the gates of Hades will not prevail!) Jesus then begins to explain to His disciples that He is going to suffer and even be killed. He mentions His resurrection on the third day, but clearly the disciples don’t hear or understand what He means. Even with the news of Easter Sunday morning, they didn’t put 2 and 2 together. Resurrection was, and is, outside of what’s normal, but they did understand suffering and being killed. Peter pulls Jesus aside and tells Jesus that he would never let that happen to Him. Then the infamous words to the Rock on whose great confession is the foundation of Jesus’ Ekklesia: Get behind me Satan… (ouch!)
How confusing for Peter! To have such a turn of events and words from Jesus… from a victory declaration to words of suffering and death… which is it? Will it be victory or death? Will this Ekklesia be built on the Messiahship of Jesus or not?
The truth and power of the Gospel is that victory for the Ekklesia comes by the suffering and death of Jesus. The Son of God was sent to die so that we can live. The community of faith that has resulted because of Jesus’ obedience to God the Father’s plan is victorious – and the gates of Hades cannot overcome it.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the victory over sin and death. I live due to You. I am in a right standing before God Almighty because of your death, burial and resurrection. How awesome is Your grace! Thank You for Your Spirit that dwells in me and among Your Ekklesia. Be glorified through me today. I live for You.