Keys of the Kingdom
|"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" |
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
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, and the gates of Hade 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" (Matthew16:13-19)
Caesarea Philippi was at the boundary of the Gentile world, He chose this Gentile place to reveal himself for a good reason, that He is Christ for all with an inclusive agenda. He asked His disciples, what people were saying as to His identity. The replies ran from John the Baptist, to Elijah, to Jeremiah, to one of the other prophets. To the average person this meant that he was like any good leader, good but not the best, great, but not the greatest, a prophet, but the "the Prophet" this response meant he was just the ordinary not the extra ordinary. When he asked Peter who they believed He was, Peter replied "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". In other words, He was that divine, promised and long-awaited Messiah. This brings a challenge to us even today: how do we know Christ Jesus? As our saviour or another historical character in the book called the "Bible".
Jesus Christ promised that "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" here the rock is Peter's confession that Christ is the Son of the living God, the truth on which the church is founded. If we have this same kind of confession, we may confidently conclude that in him we are elect as God's children and sharers in the kingdom of heaven.
Reformation and the keys to the kingdom of heaven
Jesus Christ also said to Peter "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" That didn't mean that Peter was given authority to admit men and women in heaven, because we are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ - Sola Fide, and we are saved by grace of God alone -- Sola Gratia. The kingdom of heaven on earth, was brought by Jesus to his disciples in a new wineskin. These keys were not given to Peter exclusively, but as a representative of all disciples (Matthew 18:18) where this promise was given to them all. Therefore let us go out there and lead others to the Kingdom of heaven.
Let us remember that during Martin Luther's time in the Indulgence Controversy some religious leaders thought they had the keys of the kingdom and created the impression that they can keep others away. If we share in the grace of Christ Jesus, we will be united with him, Christ will live in us, and little by little we will be renewed through Christ living in us.
Thembinkosi Nopapaza, husband to Bulelwa, serving at Johannesburg Presbyterian Church.
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