Sermon Preparation -
August 22, 1999

Matthew 16:13-20

when Jesus and his disciples were near the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked the, "What do people say about the Son of Man?"

The disciples answered, "Some people say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet."

Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter spoke up, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

Jesus told him: "Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn't discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. So I will call you Peter, which means 'a rock.' On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth. But he will not allow anything that you don't allow."

Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


This business of naming is significant. It reveals something about the one named as well as about the one doing the naming. What words would you use to describe God? What words that others use to describe God are you uncomfortable with? Same questions about Jesus. Same questions about the Holy Spirit. Same questions about Church.

2. Eugene Peterson's, The Message, has this interesting response by Jesus to Peter's naming of him as Christ/Messiah/Child of the Living God -- "And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out."
     Are you flowing with that expansive energy? What is keeping you from it?

3. One of the barriers to that expansive energy is the tendency we have to turn keys intended to open and close into rules that keep folks from even seeing some doors which need opening and recognizing that we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have opened a door when we have only gone through the motions and defined it as open while it is still closed.
     The key to the keys is that Peter received the keys only in light of his willingness to deal with revelation beyond one's own wisdom or books or teachers. Without the ever fearful business of revelation -- keys tend to deaden, not enliven with expansive energy. Without revelation how could we say a yes to the the earthy Jesus? Without revelation how could we say yes to such a frail institution as church and see beyond its present incarnation to what it is still called to be?
     How do you see Peter on the continuum between revelation-receiver and rule-maker? And yourself?
     Stay tuned for next week when Peter looses his revelation bearing and sets up a rule attempting to lock out suffering.

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