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03/09/2017: Solid as a Rock

BIBLE READING

Psalm 138 (NIRV)

A psalm of David.

1 LORD, I will praise you with all my heart. In front of those who think they are gods I will sing praise to you.

2 I will bow down facing your holy temple. I will praise your name, because you are always loving and faithful. You have honoured your holy word even more than your own fame.

3 When I called out to you, you answered me. You made me strong and brave.

4 LORD, may all the kings on earth praise you when they hear about what you have decided.

5 LORD, may they sing about what you have done, because your glory is great.

6 Though the LORD is high above all, he cares for the lowly. Though he is in heaven above, he sees them on earth below.

7 Trouble is all around me, but you keep me alive. You reach out your hand to put a stop to the anger of my enemies. With your powerful right hand, you save me.

8 LORD, you will show that I was right to trust you. LORD, your faithful love continues forever. You have done so much for us, so don’t stop now.

BIBLE READING

Matthew 16:13-20 (NIRV)

Peter Says That Jesus Is the Messiah

13 Jesus went to the area of Caesarea Philippi. There he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. Still others say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah. You are the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! No mere human showed this to you. My Father in heaven showed it to you.

18 Here is what I tell you. You are Peter. On this rock, I will build my church. The gates of hell will not be strong enough to destroy it.

19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. What you lock on earth will be locked in heaven. What you unlock on earth will be unlocked in heaven.”

20 Then Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS ON MATTHEW 16

In Greek, Peter (Petros) and rock (petra) sound alike, so we have a play on words. In Aramaic which Jesus usually spoke, the words are the same: Kepha for Cephas (Peter) and kepha for rock. The words translated “church” (ekklesia) means “assembly” or “community.” This is the only appearance of that word in the Gospels. We should not imagine, in early New Testament times, a complex and hierarchical church organization like that which we know today.

  1. In Jesus day, two traditions competed within Judaism: the prophetic, referring to the prophets, and the priestly, focusing on the Temple and religious tradition. According to verse 14, in what tradition did the people seem to place Jesus? Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. How does that passage suggest why Jeremiah was included?
  2. It is possible that “one of the prophets” in verse 14 could have meant “the prophet.” Read Deuteronomy 18:15-22 for a description of “the prophet,” who was expected to appear as another Moses. Read John 1:19-23. What did the Baptist say to those who thought he might be “the prophet”?
  3. What does verse 19 suggest about the relationship between the Christian community on earth and God in heaven?

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

  1. What does it mean for you to live as a “child of God’s promise”?
  1. With conflicts spreading around the world, with global warming, with religions and cultures at odds, with individuals corrupting our economic system, how do you feel about the future? What gives you comfort?
  1. How important is the idea of heaven in the cluster of things that reinforce your hope? In your mind, how do you picture heaven?
  1. Who do you say that Jesus is?
  1. A living God is a relevant God, a God at work within the current context. As with John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah and other prophets and prophetesses, God speaks a relevant word that reflects the contexts in which we live and the challenges the people face. A living God is not trapped in history nor even in a sacred text. Do you agree?
  1. Your and my personal response to the questions “Who do people say the Son of Man is? Who do you say I am? …determines how we live amongst and interact with other people, and how we treat our world! This in turn determines the life and work of the church, and that has heavenly consequences. Do you agree with this statement?

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

  1. You go home and someone asks, “What did you learn today?” What do you reply?

2. Continue to claim at least 10 minutes each day exclusively for refreshing your spiritual life. Think only of that which brings God to your mind. After a few minutes, let your mind form the image of someone for whom you want to pray. Let yourself feel into their situation. Picture

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