Identify and Join

September 04, 2022 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Matthew 16:13-20

We like to keep our identity at a minimum.  When it comes to Jesus, that’s not an option.  When it comes to Jesus, our identity must be fully wrapped up in Him.  Because when we identity with Jesus, it will lead us to a life that is on display for Him.  Or at least is should.  That’s where today’s Bible passage leads us.  We see Peter identify with Jesus and Jesus tells Peter he’s going to be used in big ways.  That’s what I want for all of us today.  Identify with Jesus and join in with what He is doing. Our identity with Jesus begins with what we believe about Jesus.

1) Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (vs. 13-16)  13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  I read some research this week about Caesarea Philippi.  Caesarea Philippi was a Roman city built within the borders of Israel up on a hill overlooking the entire Jordan valley.  One of the main natural features of it is this huge rock face wall where the Romans had built temple after temple after temple to god after god after god.  It was basically a strip mall for the gods.  The newest temple, at the time of Jesus, had been built for Caesar, who called himself the son of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. That was inscribed in his temple.[1]

We don’t know for sure, but I can imagine that Jesus takes His disciples to this place.  And with the background of all these temples and gods, Jesus asked them this question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  Look at the responses in verse 14 .  14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”  As Jesus was conducting His earthly ministry, a lot of people were trying to figure out who He was.  Our culture today has a lot of opinions about who Jesus is.  A myth (just another ancient story like the Odyssey).  A historical figure (Jesus was a real man, but that was all that He was).  A prophet (Jesus just fell in line with the prophets that came before Him).  A moral teacher (Jesus had a lot of good things to say, but that was as far as it went).  Our culture wants to make Jesus whoever they want Him to be.   Quote: “But we grow up in a me-focused culture swimming in consumerism, and so we envision an Americanized Jesus who is one-part genie, one-part fan club, one-part financial advisor, one-part American patriot and the rest therapist. Or we like to think of Jesus as the great Comforter—who is progressive and morally permissive like we are, approving of all the things we approve of. A big cosmic blanket you curl up and just find yourself in.” – JD Greear  The problem with reshaping Jesus is that He can’t be reshaped.  You either accept Jesus or reject Him – there’s nothing in between. 

Jesus now shifts from the opinions of others to the reality of the disciples.  15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”  16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  I want to stop here for a moment.  In church, there are a lot of phrases about Jesus. I use a lot of them too.  We call Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah, Christ, Lord, Savior, and more.  All of these names mean something, and we don’t have the time to go through them.  But they all point to Jesus’ deity – that Jesus is God.  I want everyone in this room and everyone watching online to have a foundational understand of what Peter said. That Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  I also want everyone to know where The Church at Spring Hill stands about Jesus.  Culture may give their opinions about Jesus, but we will rooted in the truth of Jesus from God’s Word.  Peter answered correctly.  And because of that Jesus tells Peter is blessed.  But HOW did Peter answer correctly?  What lead to Jesus saying, “Peter, you are blessed?”  Peter saw Jesus for who Jesus truly is—the glorious Son of God.  How do you answer the question, “Who is this Man?”  Recognize your salvation comes from Jesus.

2) Recognize your salvation comes from Jesus. (vs. 17)  Before I really dove deep into the text this week, I thought the biggest takeaway would be Peter’s declaration.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a major moment in the life of Peter and the disciples.  It’s a major moment in the time Jesus is spending with His disciples.  It’s a major moment in the book of Matthew.  But as I studied this week, I kept coming back to what Jesus said after Peter’s declaration.  Look at Jesus’ response to Peter in verse 17:  17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.   Now, the disciples had to be surprised by this.  Peter is always known for the jumping the gun, but this time Peter spits out some truth that probably caught everyone off guard.  I could see Philip whispering to Andrew, “How did he know that?!”  Jesus lets the disciples know how Peter answered the question correctly. 

What is Jesus telling Peter?  First, Peter is blessed.  Peter is blessed because of the answer he gave.  Second, Peter didn’t learn the truth about Jesus from a human.  Your translation may read “flesh and blood”.  This term is used several times in Scripture.  Paul wrote about our true enemy in this world is not flesh and blood in Ephesians.  Read Ephesians 6:12.  What does this term mean?  In short, it’s the finite human.  Peter did not learn that Jesus is the Messiah by his understanding or any other human’s understanding.  Whatever limited power we as humans possess, we do not have the ability on our own to see the full glory of God.  How did Peter receive this understanding that Jesus is the Messiah? 

Look at the third item that Jesus told Peter.  You are blessed because “my Father in heaven have revealed this to you.”  The truth Peter said came from God.  For those of you who profess Jesus as the Messiah, there is a power working in you and through you that enables you to see God and to profess His glory.  There wasn’t some kind of outside event that took place that opened your spiritual eyes.  The face of Jesus didn’t show up in your oatmeal and that was what caused you to see God’s glory.  Are there events in your life that may be a part of the process of you coming to Jesus as Lord and Savior? Yes.  But the moment your spiritual blindness is cured and you can see Jesus as the Son of God—that moment is not dependent on any outside occurrence.  The reason for that is because there is nothing we can add to who Jesus is.  Seeing Jesus for Jesus Himself is what God wants.  God wants to let the Holy Spirit work in your mind, soul, and heart to reveal the glory of His Son.  God loves to open eyes so they may see His Son.  When we realize we have no power within ourselves to cure our spiritual blindness, it causes us to ascribe glory to God even more. 

I’m not here to add a window to your prison cell.  I don’t have the power or the influence to make any of you truly believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  All I can do is point you to the One who can.  I’m here to tell you where to find the keys to your prison door.  But it’s your job to see the person holding the keys and let Him unlock the door for you.  So there is power working so that we can see Jesus as the Son of God.  And there’s no human power that effect regeneration.  There’s no human power that can open the spiritual eyes of another.  But the power doesn’t stop there.  The same power that opens our eyes spiritually is the same power the enables us to continue to live out this confession of Jesus.  That power enable us to join in with the mission of the Church.

3) Join in with the mission of the Church. (vs. 18-20)  Peter is not only blessed, but Jesus is about to tell Peter something else that is pretty cool.  18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.   Jesus tells Peter that he is the rock.  Peter is the OG Rock.  And what is Jesus going to do on this rock? Build His church.  What does it mean that Jesus said He is going to build His church through Peter?  God used Peter’s ongoing declaration that Jesus is the Messiah to build the Church.  Baptism is a confession and profession.  It was Peter’s words, Peter’s actions, and Peter’s writing about Jesus as the Messiah that was used by God.  That’s what verse 19 is all about.  19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”  Through the disciples, Jesus is going to build the Church and God’s Word.   

What Jesus did then and what Jesus does now is to unite His power with the confession that Jesus is the Messiah.  The power of God comes through the confession of truth.  We cannot change God’s truth because we cut ourselves off from God’s power.  The mission of the Church is to confess the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah.  When we do, God unites His power with our confession.  In addition, nothing can stop us.  That’s what it means when Jesus says, “the powers of hell will not conquer it.”  Your translation may read “the gates of hades will not prevail”.  I want to point out something here.  Typically this verse is used for to show the withstanding power of the church.  That Satan can never take out the church.  And that’s true, but if we read the verse again with the idea of gates in our mind, we see another truth.  What do gates do?  Gates are designed to keep people in or keep people out.  Gates are defensive. If you are going into battle, you are not grabbing a gate and saying, “Let’s go!”  Jesus says the gates of hell – the defenses of hell – will not prevail.  Satan has zero ability stop us from invading his kingdom.  Our job is to take the confession of truth that Jesus is the Son of God and let God’s power work so that Satan will retreat!  The mission of the church is to go.  Not to stay back and protect.  20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.  

[1] Taken from

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Series Information

Who Is This Man? The Inescapable Power of Jesus is a series that examines aspects of Jesus’s character. His character is revealed by his interactions with his disciples, with those who need healing, and even with children. In these interactions, Jesus shows that his heart is for all people, even (perhaps especially) those outside the traditional community. Through words difficult and caring, Jesus declares that his people should trust in him and participate in his work, for the sake of their neighbors.

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