Jesus Christ promises to build His Church, not on any human definition or individual opinion other than Himself. Jesus promises to build His Church on the truth of Peter’s and other disciples’ bold confessions that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). The Church as a people with a future hope on Jesus’ return for His people is built on the solid rock of bold confession and proclamation, sending out the message in all possible ways, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world (Matt 16:16-18).
Peter’s confession is the Church’s commission. When Peter says correctly who Jesus is, he is declared rock, the firm ground upon which the Church shall be built. When the Church says correctly who Jesus is, it will flourish on a bold confession of Jesus’ authority, growing and advancing through the bold proclamation of Jesus’ message and the display of His resurrection power.
Today’s tragedy is that the rock of truth is becoming a stumbling block. The gate of hell, the powers of death and decline, always prevail against any church that denies Jesus’ authority, bearing in mind that the Church is always on the offense, actively coming against the gates, strong spiritual walls of Satan’s kingdom.
The scripture says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” There was a ministry and leadership reversal for Peter, the rock. He is told that he is a Satan, a stumbling block, who thinks not as God thinks but as men and women think. Like many leaders and churches today, Peter does not understand the essence of the Cross as the Good News. The Good News is about Jesus’ mission requiring his capture, death, resurrection, and the Second Coming.
Like many leaders and churches today, Peter is taking Jesus out of their theology, preaching, and belief. They even deny Jesus’ virgin birth, death, resurrection, and His Second Coming. The gate of hell, including all sorts of forces, is at work in the Church, trying to keep Jesus out and deny the salvation miracle out of self-interest and pride. When you do not understand the Cross, you cannot get Jesus.
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Peter, out of emotion, having confessed to Jesus correctly in a decisive conversation with Jesus, promptly forgets what that confession entails. Confessing Jesus correctly without commitment to the teachings of Jesus amounts to vanity and spiritual poverty. Like many leaders and churches today, Peter was politically minded, thinking that being the Son of God meant power and lordship, not death on the Cross.
Beloved, there is a thin line between being a rock and a satanic stumbling block to the Gospel of salvation. In seconds, Simon Peter went from rock to stumbling block. To be a rock is to help people find the way to Jesus. One of the significant causes of church decline today is many leaders and churches like Peter being in the way of people, denying Jesus and His Second Coming. Are you one of such? From a rock to a satanic stumbling block, Peter warns us against a sinful combination of pure and impure selfish motives. The problem of ministry, Church, and leadership reversal, like Peter, is when we allow our agendas, opinions, pride, and insecurities to get in the way of what God is up to.
Jesus said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come” (Lk 17:1). God is calling the Peter in each of us and churches to refrain from being a stumbling block meaning not leading or encouraging another to act in a way the Bible specifically identifies as sin. Jesus’ use of a stumbling block is for judgment to wake up people to their sin. Peter experienced the hardships of stumbling and falling. He returned to Jesus and was used again even on the Day of Pentecost. Are you being used by Satan, thinking you are trying to love and help people? Peter’s exhortation later in life calls for our reflection, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him … (1Pet 5:8-9).