Matthew 16:13-28 Part 4

“You are Petros, and upon this Petra I will build My Church….” Verse eighteen.  As we closed the preaching of The Gospel last time, we were involved, once again, in searching out the Mind of God as we delved into the meaning of this verse.  And we are reminded, again, of the awful separation that exists between the Creator and His creation; for we, being creatures who have received the light of creation, and the light of special revelation, and the incarnation of the Word, we still have to diligently inquire in the Scriptures – begging God for wisdom – in order to understand the language with which He has so freely revealed His hiddenness!

And we find it particularly difficult when that language involves terminology which is unfamiliar to us, or when the Revelation includes analogy, or when things which we commonly deem “insignificant” are perceived by God as very significant – such as “rock”!

But since there is, now, a “new creation”; and since we have been rebirthed by the Spirit of God into a “new humanity” in Christ; and since God has “blessed” His people with the uncovering of His Son – the Christ, there now is a great joy and delight in searching out the riches of the deep mysteries of God in His Word!

The last time we met we were, indeed, delighted with the “new” insight into Christ and His Church as we sought the meaning of Jesus’ use of the term “Rock”.  We found that Peter himself used the analogy, as he described Jesus as the cornerstone of the foundation.  And that each one in Him is a living “stone” all together comprising a “new temple” of holy priests unto God!  We then learned, from Revelation chapter twenty-one, that the apostles are the twelve rock foundations of the “new city of God” – Christ being the Chief Corner of that foundation!

So we have now seen that it was not the man – Peter – upon whom Jesus was to build His Church, but it was Christ with His apostles upon which the Church was to be built!  But even though we rejoiced in those fresh insights from God into His Word, there is much more to be done with regard to “the Rock”.  We want to make sure that we’ve done all we can to understand God’s “analogies” as He uses “creation” language to reveal Himself to us.

Now, a lot of mythology and false religion has arisen, as we’ve discussed before, from the facts of Creation and the flood and other great events in God’s history.  And we want to make sure that none of that is included in our understanding of the Biblical text.  But there are ideas and images and types that do arise out of the text itself that are undeniable.  And God did not reveal Himself in such a way as to be limited by the reasonable and scientific insights of man!  So we are not to limit our understanding of Him by our own logical inquiry, and neither are we to extend His revelation of Himself to fanciful mythology!

So when we read about the “Rock” upon which the Church is built, we are to “force ourselves” away from being limited by the empirical, scientific information about these inanimate, insignificant, hard objects which appear everywhere in the world!  And, at the same time, we are to keep our imaginations in check so that we don’t “escape” from the constraints of the revealed words.

So, now, let’s go to the various texts of Scripture and see if we can discover what is in God’s mind when He brings forth the idea of “Rock”.  We want to think His thought after Him; we want to understand Him; we want to conceive “Rock” as He conceives “Rock”.  We must have the same idea, for it is His Word which edifies and builds and strengthens.  And, as it is with other individual parts of His creation, there’s no reason why, when we see a rock – either huge or very small – we shouldn’t immediately be reminded of the “Rock” as God sees it and uses it in His Word.

The first place I wish to take you in the Scriptures is to the thirty-eighth chapter of Job.  And in this very important passage we can gain a keen insight as to how God perceives His creation – and how the creation is fashioned, and how it operates!  And I think you’ll see that this is not the language of men – but the language of God.  And since we have to learn to think His thought after Him – as Job had to learn – this is a good place to begin.  And it’s also a good place to start as we seek to understand the concept of “Rock” or stone.

Listen to God’s Words as He challenges Job’s wisdom and understanding: 


“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Say it, if you have understanding!  Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know it?  Or who has stretched the line upon it?  Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?  Or who laid the corner stone thereof, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth – when it had issued out of the womb?

“When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, and brake up for it My decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come but no further; and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days?  And caused the dawn to know his place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?....

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea?  Or have you walked in the search of the depth?  Have the gates of death been opened unto you?  Or have you seen the portals (doors) of the shadow of death?  Have you perceived the breadth of the earth?  Say it if you know any of it! … Where is the way that light dwells?  And as for the darkness, where is its place? … Have you entered into the treasure chest of snow?  Or the treasure chest of hail?...

“By what means is the light parted….  Who has divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or the way for lightening and thunder? … Hath the rain a father?  Who begets the drops of dew?  Out of whose womb comes ice?  Who fathered the hoary frost of heaven?”


And He goes on and on….

And as you can hear, this isn’t the language of men.  It is the language of God Who perceives His Own creation differently from the way men do!  Every iota of the creation is personified, because it originates from the Personal God!

And in this very special portion of Scripture is the mention of the cornerstone of the foundation of the earth!  By the term Cornerstone is meant the rock upon which all else is laid, for it is “plumb”; and it is, therefore the one which is solid and straight and makes all the rest of that which is built – solid and straight!

So in the language and perception of God there is a Rock cornerstone around which the entire Creation rests, and around which everything else is fastened!  It is straight and orderly!

And in the Scriptures there is an association between this Rock of Creation and the Rock underneath the Holy of Holies in the Temple of God!  We see something of this begin to emerge in the passage in Judges chapter six with regard to Gideon.  The angel of the Lord came to Gideon, who proceeds to prepare a sacrifice for him.  The angel instructs Gideon to place the entire meal on a rock, from which emerges fire to consume the entire sacrifice!  Gideon was then instructed to tear down the altars to Baal and build an altar to the Lord on top of this Rock!

We also know from Scripture that Solomon’s temple was built on top of the rock which is at the peak of Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.  More about that shortly.

Now, in Exodus chapter seventeen and Numbers chapter twenty we see two occasions in which the nation of Israel and all of its beasts were given water to drink from a Rock!  On the first occasion the Lord said to Moses that He, Yahveh would stand on the Rock at Sinai, and Moses was to strike it with His rod.  And from that Rock would pour water for the nation.  The same thing occurred thirty or forty years later in Kadesh.  These, of course, must have been huge boulders from which flowed massive streams of water to have served millions of people and many more millions of animals – for washing as well as drinking.

And in the light of these two incidences we need to read Ezekiel chapter forty-seven where, in the vision of the New Temple of God, the rivers of living water flow out from under the altar to all the nations of the earth!  And remember, under the altar is where the Rock is!

And it’s interesting to note that, in speaking to the Church at Corinth, in his first letter to them, chapter ten, the apostle Paul makes a connection between the communion we all have in the body and blood of Christ, with the water which flowed from the Rock in the Sinai desert!  He says there that the Rock with gave them water to drink followed them – and that Rock was Christ!

Not that the rock rolled around the desert with the nation, but that those who were baptized into Moses were fed spiritual food and drank spiritual drink!  And that Rock Who was Christ is closely associated with Gideon’s Rock and the Rock under Ezekiel’s temple from which issued the rivers of living water to the nations!

And if all that isn’t enough to leave us exhausted and breathless, Isaiah, in his inspired prophecies concerning the destruction of the nation of Israel and the building of the New Temple in the New Heavens and New Earth, Isaiah takes up the Rock Theology.

In Isaiah chapter twenty-eight he says, 


“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation – a Stone, a tried stone, a precious corner, a sure foundation; he that believes shall not be put to flight.’” (inscription) 

And chapter eight:  “For He shall be for a refuge; but for a stone of stumbling and for a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many of them shall stumble, and fall, and be dashed, and be snared, and be taken.”


In the last verses of Romans chapter nine, Paul puts both of these Isaiah passages together and sees, in them, a fulfillment in the Jews’ rejection of Christ because they pursued a man-made righteousness.  On the other hand, the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness have found it through faith!  They have not been entrapped by the Rock and dashed to pieces on it!

Then in Peter’s first letter to the Jewish refugees who had escaped to the clefts of the rocks in the mountains to avoid the holocaust to come in 70 AD, Peter combines the Isaiah chapter eight passage we just read and Psalm one hundred eighteen, when he says this:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believes on Him shall not be ashamed.  Unto you therefore which believe, precious; but unto them which be disobedient, ‘the stone which the builders disallowed, the Same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense.’”  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light….”


And Peter calls the Jewish refugees – the lost sheep of the house of Israel – “living stones, built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up acceptable sacrifices to God in Jesus Christ.”

Then, of course, the passage which we read last time from the Revelation concerning the New City of God which is built on the foundation of the apostles, the corner or “center” stone of which is Christ.

Now, again, if that were not enough, there’s still more!  Because Psalm one hundred eighteen has to do, not with the corner of the foundation, or the center piece around which everything is built and fastened, but with the Key stone in the gate into righteousness!  So the “portal” into righteousness has a “Keystone” which is Christ.  And it’s also interesting to note other portals and rocks and stones in Scripture, not the least of which is Matthew twenty-seven, verse fifty-one, which says that, at the death of Christ, the “rock” was split by an earthquake and opened the graves of the dead!  So, apparently there is a “portal” to the place of the dead in which is built a “keystone.”

So, Christ is the foundation, the origin of the world; He is the Rock of the Holy of Holies; the Rock from which flows rivers of Living Water; He is the “keystone” of the portal to righteousness and the keystone of the portal of the dead; He is the Rock upon which the unbelieving Jews would be trapped and crushed; and He is the plumb center-stone around which the apostolate forms the rock foundation of the Church!

And all of this is, of course, straight Pauline Theology; for, as he writes to the Churches at Ephesus, he says this:

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Cornerstone, in Whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy Temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

So, now that we’ve done all this, however superficially, we can now say that the perception of God with regard to “Rock” has nothing to do with the man – Peter – nor with his confession, nor with his faith!  But with a play on words, the Lord Jesus has incorporated the entire Revelation of God with regard to “Rock”, and, with the spokesman for the apostles, He has set the institution of the apostolate around Himself as the Rock foundation of the New City of God!

And now, should you be driving someday upon a high mountain or a rocky cliff; or should your son or daughter pick up a beautiful stone to play with – and want to show it to you, then you’ll be able, immediately, to recognize how God perceives the rock!  And you can say to your son or your daughter, “Let me tell you abut that rock….”  Or, “Let’s talk about God and that boulder over there….”

Scientists – geologists and others – will pick up rocks and analyze their makeup, split them to search for fossils, and try to determine their age; but it would be alien to most of them to remember that Christ was placed in a hollowed-out rock which belonged to Joseph of Arimethea; and it would be foreign to most that the lost sheep of the house of Israel fled Jerusalem to the clefts of the rocks for refuge and safety from the judgment of God; it would never occur to them that living water is flowing, now, from the Rock foundation of the New Temple of God; and they would never think that the keys to the portal of righteousness were given to the apostles of Christ the Keystone!  And most would never think to remember that the Rock and origin of creation is Christ Jesus the Lord.

But we can teach our children these things.  And we can teach them that the Church, according to Christ, is built on this Rock – this precious cornerstone – plus solid rock inscribed with the names of the apostles!  And that each one of them, as believers, are precious stones built up into a temple of holy priests.

In Exodus chapter twenty-three the Lord instructs Moses in keeping the Passover.  And He said that when the young ask what it is, the fathers are to teach them that God passed them over when He killed the first-born of all of Egypt.  And that He brought them out of Egypt, the house of bondage.

And today, when our children ask us “What is communion?” we are to instruct them that God killed His OWN firstborn in order that His people might not die; and that we might be brought out from the bondage of our own depravity.

The Rock of creation, and the One from Whom living waters flow, offered Himself in the flesh, and shed His Own blood, in order that we might be made new.  In the new Passover, the Lord’s Table, we drink wine which signifies His blood, and we eat bread which signifies His body.  And so we are in union with Him Who is the Passover Lamb.  And we praise and give thanks to God our Father, for He has given us understanding of both His Rock and His Lamb.


Next Lord’s Day – the Ekklesia – the Church which is built on the Rock.