Matthew 16:13-20 (NRSV)
Verse 13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Verse 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Verse 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Verse 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Verse 17And 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. Verse 18And 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. Verse 19I 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." Verse 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Peter, the “rock” in today’s story, will be the same Peter who denies even knows Jesus on the night of Jesus arrest. Fear will have overtaken and overshadowed Peter’s faith. Yet, even knowing what was to come, Jesus blessed Peter and promised to build the Church on this unreliable human, this saint and sinner, this person like you and me. Isn’t that good news? Jesus promises that the Church based on Jesus Christ will continue no matter how much leaders falter. No matter how much our efforts fail, the Church of God will not.
This doesn’t mean the way we “do” church will stay the same. It will change. What doesn’t change is our understanding of how God loves sustains all of creation. The power to forgive sins remains constant. The importance of prophets, preachers, evangelists, and faith-filled people does not change. Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God is our foundational rock. We thank God that does not change either.
Thank you, Jesus, for your constant and consistent love. May we share that love with others. Amen.