TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Matthew 16:13-20

Defining moments are powerful. They tend bring clarity to action, decisions, and beliefs. More often than not, defining moments also become launching points for further knowledge and growth. For example, when Albert Einstein deduced that there is no fixed frame of reference in the cosmos, it became the defining moment that led him to conclude that everything is moving relative to everything else. His theory of general relativity was born, and it became a launching point for further knowledge of our universe.

The New Testament narrative of Matthew 16:13-20 (See Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21) represents the defining moment in the lives of the disciples of Jesus. The disciples are asked two questions, both of which are connected to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. First, Jesus asks, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (16:14). Jesus then focuses upon the opinion of His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (16:15). Public opinion had promising but divided opinions about Jesus (prophet, John the Baptist, Elijah).

Each Gospel account records a confession from the mouth of Peter (John 6:67-71), yet it is in Matthew alone that Jesus connects Peter’s confession about His identity to the term church (Matthew 16:18). This is Peter’s defining confession. He says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16). This moment is a springboard to understanding not only the identity of Jesus but also the very foundation (“on this rock”) of what the church represents (16:18).

The church (assembly) Jesus intends to “build” is laid upon this conviction of His identity, firmly established in His triumph over the gates of the Hadean realm (16:18; Romans 1:4; Acts 2:24). Jesus promises to establish an assembly that hears His voice because of their conviction that He is the Messianic Son of God. As with the Old Testament assembly of God (qāhāl), the church emerges as the assembly (ekklēsia) of Christ, called out to embody His Word and to confess the identity of Jesus before the world.

Today, I will…strengthen my conviction in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for it is the foundation of my faith. I will live with the hope of Heaven and I will live as a member of the assembly of Christ, because I know there is eternal life.