JESUS THE ROCK
All buildings must be placed upon a foundation if they are to endure. It is the same with our lives; they too must be placed on a sure foundation if we are to build an enduring life.
Some people build on themselves, on an organization, on another person, on their religion or on their church. If we are to build a lasting life we will have to build on something more solid than mere humans or ourselves.
One of the biblical titles of God is “the Rock”. The Bible says that God is the only rock on which we can build our lives. The title ‘Rock’ is a Messianic and a divine title. “There is none holy like the LORD, there is none besides thee; there is no rock like our God.” (1Sa 2:2)
David called God “my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior.” (Psalm 18:2)
In Genesis God is called: “the Rock of Israel.”(Genesis 49:24) God, therefore, is the Rock and the foundation of the believer’s life – there is no other.
Jesus claimed to be the Rock – God’s appointed foundation for life. This is also clearly stated by Paul:“For no other foundation may one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11)
IS PETER THE ROCK?
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’ (Matt. 16:13-18).
Jesus claimed to be The Rock, and thereby claimed to be both Messiah and God.
It has sometimes been suggested that these words of Jesus mean that Peter is the rock on which the church is to be built, and that Peter is in some sense the foundation of Christianity rather than Christ Himself. Some have even been persuaded to believe that their salvation is based on an institutional connection with Peter rather than a personal relationship with Jesus.
In Greek, the name “Peter” is ‘Petros’. The word for “rock” is “petra”. Petros means a small stone or a pebble. Petra means a large rock. The idea of building a church upon a pebble would obviously be ridiculous and therefore could not be Christ’s real meaning. When Jesus says, “You are Peter [Petros], and on this rock [petra] I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18) He is describing Peter as a pebble whose life was being built on the Rock, Jesus. He did not call Peter a rock – He called him a pebble. When Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus showed His agreement with his declaration that He (Jesus) is indeed the Messiah, the Son of the Living God and the Rock of Ages.
When we recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior (as Peter did), we place our lives on the Rock of Salvation, Jesus. The church is founded along with Peter and all believers on the Rock, Jesus, and not on any of its members.
For Peter to see himself as the rock on which the church is built would mean that he was attributing to himself a title which can only be given to God. As a good Jewish believer he knew that the title ‘Rock’ belongs only to God Himself.
Peter himself declares that Jesus is the only foundation of the believer’s faith when he says “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by whom we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Later he writes that we are stones that are part of the spiritual house of God. Peter himself calls himself a stone and not ‘the Rock’ “…. like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) Peter confirms this yet again when he declares that Jesus is the cornerstone of Zion referred to by Isaiah from Isaiah (Is. 28:16). “For it stands in scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)
The Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, is the true Rock, the Rock of ages in whom there is salvation. The person who builds upon this foundation can say, like David: “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Ps. 62:6).