Readings for this lesson: Matthew 16:13-28, Mark 8:27-38, Luke 9:18-27
These 3 passages describe the same conversation between Jesus and His disciples though each is unique. Jesus knew the end of His earthly ministry was near and wanted to be sure His disciples were prepared and that they understood who He was. The location was important in that the major religions of the western world were represented there. Jesus announced the beginning of the Church here to make clear that it is the Church for the whole world. The Ecclesia – the gathering of God’s people – would include people of the whole world and replace the pantheons of the world with the foundational truth that Jesus the Messiah is King of kings and Lord of lords.
With His disciples He wanted to:
- affirm to them His messianic identity
- provide a community structure for His followers to carry on the work
- prepare them for the difficult events of the next weeks that were essential for the establishment of the Kingdom among people
- describe what would be required of them
The Community of Jesus: Identity and responsibilities
- the faith expressed by Peter would be the foundation of the Church
- the Church would prevail over all the forces of evil by the power of God operating through the faith of His people. Hell would not be able to withstand it. It is crucial to understand that we are to be on the offensive, fighting with the power of the spirit of Jesus against the evil in the world.
- keys are a symbol of the authority to enter new domains or to close and protect domains. Jesus says He is delegating His own authority to His followers.
- He tells us that the decisions we make in His name have eternal consequences, either for good or for ill. We have the awesome responsibility to determine His will and act on it.
- His death and resurrection would be central to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The life of the cross and the hope of resurrection are central to our life in His Kingdom.
- To live in relationship with Him we must release to Him all personal desires and aspirations. We follow wherever He leads. Even if this means suffering and death. Te cross is our decision to obey the specific marching orders He gives to us with no regard to circumstances, difficulties, or our own aspirations or comfort.
- What awesome responsibilities has Jesus given us/you as His community on earth?
- How are we to obtain Jesus’ help in making decisions in the Kingdom of God?
- What does Jesus require of us to become His followers?