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Jesus’ goals for his church

August 21, 2023

Daily Scripture

Matthew 16:13-18, 18:15-20

Matthew 16
13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One [or Son of Man] is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18 I tell you that you are Peter [Peter means rock]. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it.

Matthew 18
15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16 But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses [Deuteronomy 19:15]. 17 But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18 I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus had fewer than 100 followers and faced deadly hostility from his country’s power structure. Yet, amazingly, he believed his followers would form an irresistible divine power that he called “my church”! He expressed a big vision—he said his church would be so spiritually powerful that not even “the gates of the underworld” [i.e., Hades—the realm of the dead] would be able to stand against it. He showed that he could make that vision real by dying and then rising from the dead!

  • Pastor Myron Augsberger wrote, “Jesus stressed a course of action on the offense, not on the defensive. He would move in on a world that was so permeated with evil that it would reject Him, but the gates of hell would not stop Him, nor prevail against the planting of His church.” * In what ways are you personally able to work to roll back the darkness of our world? How do you support and help your church in rolling back the darkness?
  • Scholar N. T. Wright observed, “Jesus isn’t going to build an actual city, or an actual Temple. He is going to build a community, consisting of all those who give allegiance to him as God’s anointed king.” ** Jesus said Deuteronomy’s rule to avoid unverifiable accusations was vital to making his church a true community, not just a hall where isolated people watch a performance. How can you make integrity a central value as you are an active member of Jesus’ community?

Lord Jesus, give me the courage, creativity, focus and faith to live as a committed member of your cosmic “winning team.” Amen.

GPS Insights

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today. Dr. Oden has been a faithful Insights writer for years, and first blessed us with today's post in September of 2017.

“Who do you say that I am?” Among all the questions Jesus asks in the gospels, this one may be the most intimidating for a lot of us. It can feel like a test, like there’s a right answer and we better get it right.  

For sure it’s an important question about Jesus to ask ourselves-–“Who do I say Jesus is?” Is Jesus Lord of my whole life? Or just the Lord of Sunday mornings? Your answer to that question has probably changed over time. Your answer when you were 16 years old is likely to be different than at 46.  

But notice that in this passage (Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus also tells Peter who Peter is–the rock. So maybe it’s important to turn the question around and ask Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Then just listen to what he says. Who does Jesus say that you are? Let Jesus name you, you in particular, in the way only Jesus can say who you truly are.

Pause today to sit with Jesus. Hear him ask you, “Who do you say that I am?” Answer honestly, even if your answer is “I don’t know.” Then ask him, “Jesus, who do you say that I am?” Listen inwardly to his words to you today. Be in conversation with Jesus and see what happens!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Myron S. Augsberger, comment on Matthew 16:13-20 in The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 24: Matthew. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.
** Wright, N. T., Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 7). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, Kindle Edition.