“The Gospel of Matthew chapter 16, verses 13-20,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
My dear Christians and you of all faith and thoughts and all views and opinions, I bid and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and to not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, and political code words and hype can join in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in this world of confusion and to come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.
Fellow thinkers, readers and men and women of all faiths, today as I have many times before will attempt to interpret, explain and even in some sense come to understand and grasp the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew chapter 16 vv. 13-20 as follows: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caeserea, he asked his disciples ‘who do men say the son of man is?’ And they said ‘some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them ‘who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied ‘You are the Christ, the son of the living god.’ And Jesus answered him ‘Blessed are you Simon Peter Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build this church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the key of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be lost in heaven.’ Then he strictly charged his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Once again, believers and non-believers alike, we are faced with the words of Christ, most difficult of understanding and interpretation, and for me a great challenge to grasp and I do so an approach this task of interpretation with great humility and hesitation.
First, in saying that Jesus is or was either John the Baptist or one of the prophets either Elijah or Jeremiah this is the answer of many in the world today who wish to evade Jesus’s claim of divinity and to be god. The world even today is not happy with Jesus’s divine claim and in many instances due to this, if you will, exclusive claim, Christians are persecuted worldwide and were from the beginning after Jesus’s death and resurrection for 400 years. Calling Jesus a prophet and nothing more is a significant rejection in essence of the gospel founded in his claim of divinity. Jesus then asks Simon peter who he is and Peter gives the answer of faith and truth that he is Christ, the son of the living god.
In calling Jesus the son Matthew invokes the father-son relationship of the trinity and in not using the term ‘messiah’ he avoids the almost military use of the word and avoids the national connotation associated with the term. In speaking of the son, he directs us to Jesus as son and the second person of the trinity and not to the national leader and restorer of Israel.
Jesus make clear here that it was only through faith and through the work and relationship of god that Peter could have known and said this. Knowing as Peter did that Jesus was the Christ is knowledge only possibly gained and obtained by the communication by faith through the living god in heaven to be contrasted with the previous reports of men that Jesus was nothing more than a mere mortal, either John the Baptist or one of the prophets; a conclusion coming from and through human thought agency and conclusion. For Peter’s great confession, Jesus says he will build his church on him and on the rock of Peter’s faith and confession he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. This statement of Jesus as coming from god himself has been borne out by time. The church endures whatever is thrown against it, however it is persecuted. It flourishes in all continents all societies all places and as Jesus said nothing can prevail against it whether arrests, murders and destruction of church buildings; nothing as Jesus said here will be able to demolish the church; it seems to emerge and reemerge whatever the present circumstances. Finally, Jesus says to Peter he will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be lost in heaven. Jesus then ends this passage with a charge to the disciples to tell no one he was the Christ.
What is the meaning of the words here of giving peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven and saying whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you lose on earth shall be lost in heaven? First the end warning here is important. We all know in this life if we speak of Jesus and our faith in him we will pay a great price. The world does not want to hear about public statements of faith from any one and so Jesus correctly warns his disciples not to speak and to not to tell anyone he is the Christ. This is a prediction of what can befall us if we do this. Matthew relates church to kingdom saying the church brings salvation to human on an interim basis between the time and ministry of Jesus and the coming kingdom. Peter is given enormous authority being given the entree to the kingdom of heaven with the ability to bind and loose on earth and this this earthly binding and loosing is bound and loosed in heaven Peter is not only the founder and the very foundation stone of the but what he binds and looses on earth are bound in heaven. What is this binding and loosing? The authority to bind and loose given to Peter here by Jesus in the church probably refers to all forms of organization and decision making.
My dear men and women of thought and all forms of faith Christians and non-Christians alike, I now end my interpretation of this particular passage and the words of Jesus and do hope I have said something of value and worth in thinking and explanation and interpretation. I ask you to read and reflect on what I have said and more important return to and read and read the biblical text. We cannot read the words of Jesus often enough and with greater frequency.