Mystery of His Project

by Pastor Bob Miller

We have been looking at the conversation that Jesus has with his disciples. This is an important conversation, not for what it reveals to us about who Jesus is, but also in the fact that we are sucked into this conversation. We find ourselves needing to respond to the questions Jesus is asking just as if he were addressing us. Not only does Jesus ask, “Who do people say that the son of man is?” but He follows up with the one question that we all must answer for ourselves, “But you, who do you say that I am.”

And what an important conversation it is for calls the disciples not only to declare their faith – but He begins to expand their hearts and minds to what that faith in Him means.

Jesus got away to be with his disciples without distractions from outside crowds. He needed to prepare them for what lay ahead.

He asks them first, who do people say the Son of Man is? They correctly understand that Jesus is referring to himself as the “Son of Man.” Isn’t it interesting how Jesus describes Himself? The disciples, first of all, tell us what others are saying about Jesus. And their list is impressive. They include Elijah and Jeremiah. Two of Israel’s greatest prophets. But note how Jesus refers to Himself. He says, “Son of Man.” And in doing so, Jesus is identifying himself with humanity! He is one of us! He is flesh and bone! He feels pain, just as we do! Gets hungry and tired and weary just like us! He is one who has walked in our shoes, walked our streets! He is one of us! He understands heartache, loss of a loved one; betrayal, criticism. But also, He was born in a manger, in a town in Israel called Bethlehem. He grew up in Nazareth. He is not made-up. He isn’t from another planet. He is not a comic book hero. He is not out a mythological figure! He is human!

And by identifying himself as the Son of Man, he is firmly stating that He qualifies as the Messiah! The very first prophetic reference to God sending a Savior comes way back in Genesis 3, after Adam sinned. God curses the serpent saying in verse 15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” In other words , salvation will come from an offspring of Eve. Don’t forget, Jesus is fully human!

Even as Peter responds with that inspired answer, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God,” we begin to live into the wonder of the MYSTERY that Jesus is both Son of Man and Son of God! He is fully human and fully Divine! How can it be? And yet it is!

And then, Jesus affirms Peter’s declaration! There is NO correction to Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the MESSIAH, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus doesn’t deny it but instead affirms this answer by saying in verse 17, “Blessed are you Simon, Son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven!” It is if He was screaming: “YES, YES, YES! – That’s an answer straight out of Heaven!” And I’M BELIEVING THAT ALL OF HEAVEN IS CELEBRATING and rejoicing when such a confession is made! When a person takes that leap of FAITH to declare what heaven has been revealing to be TRUE all along!

In Luke 15:7 Jesus says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

And even after we’ve figured it out and we’ve made Him our Savior and Lord, there is so much more that Jesus has to reveal to us about WHO HE IS and about how He wants us to live with Him, in Him and for Him! That is what Jesus shares in His answer to us. We’ve already seen in verse 18, that Jesus’ purpose is to build His Church! And He isn’t talking about bricks and mortar to create a physical building! Buildings are a blessing! But we mistakingly think that this building – here on Oneawa Street - is the Kailua Church of the Nazarene! On any given day, that is where you will find it. WRONG! The Church is made up of “little stones,” petros – that are being brought together and built up for a purpose! Those “little stones” are you and me. Together, having as our foundation STONE, “the PETRA” of the word of God, we are the Church! And the Church in Kailua is found wherever we go, to our homes, our schools, our workplaces, where we shop and dine and play. The Church is alive, and it has taken on FLESH, and it is the extension of Jesus in our world!

Jesus is building His Church. And it is upon Him that the Church is built. You say, “but Pastor, you said the foundation is His Word, and now you’re saying it is Him!” Yes, you’re right. His Word is an extension of Him! There is no difference!

I might reach out and slap someone, and you’d ask, “Why did you do that?” “I didn’t do it; my hand did it! It wasn’t me! It was my hand!” You would declare, “That is ridiculous! Your hand is an extension of who you are!” And so it is, with the written and living Word of God. It is the extension of Jesus Himself! You can’t tell me you love Jesus and willfully disobey His Word! That doesn’t make sense!

Now Jesus says He’s building His Church. He then tells us what that means in verse 19. He is building us together to be the extension of His life here on EARTH! Listen again to verse 19:

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.

There are several images Jesus uses here to convey to us what our mission is as part of His Church. First He says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” We understand what keys are used for. To have the key is to be given authority and with it the responsibility. If I tell you I’m giving you the keys to my car or my home, you are given the authority that comes with using it

Many have felt that Jesus was singling out Peter and his successors. But just as Peter represented all of the disciples, so it is that Jesus is speaking to each of us who have made the same confession. Jesus is handing you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

I want to take you back three chapters to the end of chapter 13. Jesus had just finished telling a series of parables about the Kingdom of heaven and then asks in verse 51-52, “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Jesus has opened the hearts and eyes of the disciples to spiritual truth – and has called them to be Kingdom scribes! You have understood spiritual truth and now it is up to you to pass it on and to share what you know! The Scribe is the one who handled the Word and who interpreted it and explained it so others could DIGEST IT and make it their own.

When Jesus is passing out keys, He is saying, “you have the authority to share what you have learned; to live out what you have digested! Those you work with, your classmates, they will never pick up a Bible to read it on their own. The only Bible they will ever read is what they see lived out in you!” We’ve been given the KEYS to the Kingdom and it is up to us to share it with our world.

Jesus goes on and talks about “binding and loosing.” It almost sounds like we’ve been given the power to change what goes on in heaven,

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.

But there is an alternate translation from the original Greek rendering which can be interpreted in a different tense of the verb. So instead of reading, ‘Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,” it can be read, “and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven.” That changes the whole picture. In other words, what you do here is what has been done in heaven.

Jesus taught us to pray,

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

It is a prayer that God’s will is done here on earth just as it is being done in heaven. Jesus is saying to His Church, it is up to us to discern what is taking place in His Kingdom, where the streets are gold, and live it out here in this world where the streets are concrete. We are called to be an extension of His life, to reflect Him, to do what Jesus would do. (You remember WWJD bracelets).

We are to as “little stones,” a reflection of the FOUNDATION STONE, THE ROCK of Ages! We are called to live like Him – love like Him – forgive like Him. We are an extension of who He is! And we can do this because He has given us the key which makes this possible! He has given us His Spirit! When He died on the cross, he opened the door and led us out of captivity. He set us free, and He forgave our sins. He paved the way for the Holy Spirit to come and make his home in our hearts so that He can flow through us into a world that is in darkness.