Begin by conducting a brief review. (a) The word church (ekklesia) was not part of a specialized religious vocabulary that denoted a special spiritual emphasis in a Christian context. It was a common word that referred to any number of things that included non-religious usages. (b) The New Testament used the word to stress a concept, not an institution. The common meaning: the called out. The Christian concept: to be in but not to be a part of. Christians are in this physical world, but they are governed by Gods values expressed through Jesus Christ, not by the values of those who reject God. (c) For Christians, the word church should refer to people who are in Jesus Christ. Church refers to the community who exist in Jesus Christ. Acts declares church and people in Jesus Christ refer to the same spiritual reality. Thus, those who are in the church are Gods called out. We do not isolate ourselves from those who rebel against God, but live among them and seek to be a godly influence.
The context of the text: Jesus and his disciples were in the northernmost area of Galilee. In fact, there were more gentiles in this area than Jews. The area was more noted for idolatrous activity than the worship of Jehovah God. The area was north of the Sea of Galilee, acknowledged to be part of the headwaters of the Jordan River, and near Mount Hermon.
Jesus miracles and unusual teachings produced much discussion among the Jewish people. Whatever the discussion, Jesus had to be explained. The Jewish crowds had to explain how this man was able to do and say what he did and said. For the Jewish people, the explanation centered on Jesus identityhis identity was the how. Thus, Jesus asked what identity the Jewish crowds gave him. The disciples replied that the crowds thought he was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Those were not inferior identitiesthe Jewish people thought Jesus was sent by God!) Jesus then asked who the disciples thought he was. Peter responded immediatelyhe was the Christ, Gods son.
This statements significance is not focused on the church, but on Jesus identity. The emphasis is not on what he would build, but on who he was. (1) Jesus said Peter knew who he was through revelation from God. (2) Because of who he was, he would build his called out. (3) Death would not prevent him from producing his called out, and death would not conquer his called out. (4) Peter would play a unique role in Jesus producing his called out. (5) The disciples should notat this timereveal Jesus actual identity as the Christ. Saying that Jesus declared himself to be the Christ (the Jewish Messiah) at this time would not be helpful to Jesus ministry and mission.
Jesus connection to his called out is described as a head to a body (Jesus being the head, and those in Jesus Christ being the body) [Ephesians 1:22, 23; 4:15, 16; Colossians 1:18, 24; 2:19], and as a husband to a wife in a flawless relationship [Ephesians 5:22-32]. In each analogy, Jesus is the protector who provides guidance for his called out.
Commonly today (and in past centuries), human emphasis tends to be on the church. The emphasis in the first century is on the identity of Jesus as the Christ (a Greek word) or the Messiah (a Hebrew word). God had long promised Israel a Messiah (Christ). Israel expected a king (like David, not like Jesus) who would permanently deliver the physical nation of Israelites from foreign oppression. Jesus simply did not fit expectations. Jesus declared peace by surrender and joy through sacrifice and death. Paul urged the called out in Rome not to seek vengeance on enemies but to show kindness to those who opposed them (Romans 12:17-21). Israel was not an ancient nation, but the people of faith in Jesus who had been called out to Jesus, who entered Jesus, and who devoted themselves to Gods values (Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 3:7; 29; 6:12-16; Philippians 3:3). Peace and joy through surrender and death? Loving enemies? Conquering evil by doing good? Establishing Gods kingdom by refusing to take vengeance? Servants who did not fight to rescue their king? What kind of kingdom is that? Who would want to be king of such values? This is not at all what Abrahams physical descendants had in mind! Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah God promised? An executed Savior? A resurrected Redeemer who rejoiced in his followers deaths? How was that physically any improvement over what Abrahams physical descendants already experienced? Thus, many in first-century physical Israel said, No thanks! to Jesus. They wanted a physical king who would crush their enemies, release them from domination, and make other people fear them again!
Christians belong to a dying man who was made Savior by God. They conquer by doing good. They want a King who has power over death. Their hope is placed in Jesus resurrection and his promise of their resurrection. They live in physical surrender in search of a promised body that is not physical and cannot die. They endure the physical in anticipation of a life that cannot end when they live with an eternal God. They understand the resurrected Jesus is Lord! He is King! He, by Gods acts, is the promised Christ! They understand that they are Gods Israel! Faith in the resurrected Jesus made them Abrahams descendants. Gods promises are theirs! They exist to be Jesus called out! Without the resurrected Jesus, the church and Christianity are nothing.
For Thought and Discussion
1. Give three things to be remembered in a brief review.
2. What is the context of the text, Matthew 16:13-20?
3. Jesus miracles and unusual teachings produced what among the Jewish people? Why?
4. Who did the Jewish people say Jesus was? Was that a compliment?
5. Who did Peter say Jesus was?
6. The text does not focus on what, but on what?
7. Give a five point summary of the text (given in the lesson).
8. Jesus connection to his called out is described as what two things? In each illustration/analogy, Jesus is what two things?
9. Commonly today (and in past centuries), the emphasis tends to be given to what in the text?
10. Stated in a simple statement, why was Jesus not accepted by many Jews as their Messiah?
11. Many in Israel rejected Jesus because he did not do what three physical things?
12. Why do Christians live in physical surrender and service?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 7
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