(The “sermon notes” that I post here are not meant to be summaries of that day’s message, but rather my way of processing a new or thought-provoking detail that catches my attention and/or an attempt to bring practical application to what I hear.)
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’” (Matthew 16: 16-18, NASB)
I’ve heard these verses all my life and I learned early that Peter’s name means rock. I guess it wasn’t a big jump from there (in my overly-serious childhood brain) to assume that the rock upon which Jesus said he would build his church was Peter. But here’s the thing: in this story, Peter is only the “little r” rock. Yes, in a moment of divine inspiration he made a bold declaration of truth. But it’s the Truth that matters. Not the man.
It’s easy to put the focus on the little r rocks that build our experience of church. We like to identify ourselves as members of a particular (little r) denomination with a preference for a specific (little r) style of worship. We are partial to the preaching of certain (little r) pastors and read books written by our favorite (little r) authors. I am not saying that we should stop doing any of these things. I’m just saying that we need to make sure that we keep them all in perspective.
The true Church is built on the experience and confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. He’s the “big R” Rock.
(PS- As I’m writing this, the irony that the senior pastor at my church is Pastor R is not lost on me. I’m pretty sure he won’t mind if I call him Pastor r now. 🙂 )