Seeing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Simon Peter is an interesting character in the Bible. He was one of the first that the Lord Jesus called, but because of his personality, he did not respond by following the Lord right away. Jesus named him Peter perhaps a year before he became His fulltime disciple (John 1:42). It seems it was after the Lord healed his mother-in-law that he was called again by the Lord. At around that time the Lord asked Peter if he could use his boat to speak to the crowds, and afterwards was rewarded with a big catch of fish (Luke 5:1-7). Peter’s equipment was probably not that good, for his nets began to break! Upon reaching shore, Peter fell at the Lord’s feet, realizing he was a sinful man, and not someone qualified to follow Him. The Lord’s word to him was interesting. Jesus told him, “You are just catching fish now, but if you follow Me, I will show you how to catch men instead of fish.” This word no doubt encouraged Peter to follow the Lord. For at least the next two years, Peter remained the Lord’s close companion and began to grow spiritually.
Just a couple of years after following Jesus, Peter had his revelation. Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” (Matt. 16:13) The twelve were probably circled around Him on the mountain. Some said, “John the Baptist” (which doesn’t really make sense, seeing how differently John and Jesus dressed and lived). Some said, “Elijah” or “Jeremiah” which was more reasonable. Others said, “one of the prophets.” In other words, none of the disciples knew what to say to this question. Then all of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, Peter said, “You…You know who You are? You are…You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” In other words Peter said, “You are the One anointed by God to carry out His economy, and You are the expression of God Himself.”
I believe all the other disciples were stunned at Peter’s word. Perhaps they wondered, “Has the Lord been telling Peter things He hasn’t been telling us?” Or they might have thought, “Why is it Peter was able to say such thing, and not me?” Peter himself must have been apprehensively mopping his brow, thinking, “I can’t believe I said what I just said, but I sure hope it means something.” Then the Lord got excited. The Lord responded to Peter, “Simon Barjona, you are blessed! No one of flesh and blood could have taught you this! You received this revelation directly from God my Father, who is in the heavens! These are not your words; this revelation has been given to you by God.” God chose Peter to be the first one to say of Jesus, “You are the Christ.”
Seeing the Church as What is Built by Christ Upon “This Rock”
The Lord continued by saying, “and I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My church.” The word “church” was not a brand-new word, because it was used many places in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) for God’s called-out people in the wilderness. The Lord’s use of this word, however, gave it new meaning. Whether or not Peter knew this word is hard to say, but he may have understood it as “congregation.” Due to the Lord’s word, however, Peter understood “church” to mean something more than a group of people God called out and worked with. Now to Peter it meant something the Lord would build using the same revelation Peter had just received of Christ Himself.
To whom did the Father reveal Christ, and to whom did Christ reveal His church? To this one who gave Him so much trouble. To this one who initially refused to give up his soggy boat and old nets to follow Jesus. I do not believe Simon Peter was even that successful as a fisherman. Yet he was the one who later said to the Lord, “We have left all to follow You. What do we get?”(Mark 10:28) Doesn’t this sound ridiculous? Even on earth, Peter was rewarded by getting to accompany Jesus in His earthly ministry, and by being recognized as the leader among this notable band of disciples. If I were Peter, I would be ashamed to make the statement, “We have left all to follow You.” We should be encouraged that it was to such a one that the Father revealed His Son, and to whom the Son revealed His church.
What did Jesus mean when He said, “upon this revelation I will build My church”? First of all, it became clear that “the church” no longer could merely mean a group of people banded together. This group had now become something organic, for the Lord would build it as Eve had been “built” from Adam (Gen. 2:22 , original). Secondly, it was declared that all that Christ would work among this people would come solely out of what was revealed of Himself. The church Christ would build could never deviate from Himself. Nothing of human culture would be allowed to replace the revelation of Christ.
This is a great matter. We must realize that the church can never be built upon anything other than the revelation of Christ. We may appreciate certain brothers, but the Lord will not build the church with anything other than the revelation of Christ they minister. The Lord does not build the church upon them. The Lord did not say to Peter, “I will build my church upon you.” This may be what the Catholic Church teaches, but it is not what the Bible teaches.
The name “Peter” means “a stone” in Greek, whereas “rock” in Matthew 16:18 is a different, though closely related, word. It refers to something large that possesses the quality of rock, such as a foundational bedrock. This foundational “rock” is the revelation of Christ Himself. We thank the Lord that in the church there can be no other foundation. If we merely said this rock was Christ, that might be too doctrinal. That is why we must see that the rock with which Christ builds the church is the revealed Christ.
Therefore we should ask ourselves, how much has Christ been revealed to me? Some believers, after having had something of Christ revealed to them on the day they believed Jesus, never progress any further. That is all the revelation of Christ they have experienced. Although all believers are saved, and all believers have Christ, not all believers possess the same amount of the revelation of Christ.
Our usefulness to the Lord for the building up of His church is not strictly based upon our zeal, our character, our giftedness, or our knowledge of the truth. It is rather altogether a matter of how much revelation of Christ we have experienced. The Lord builds the church with the revealed Christ. What we have seen of Christ should be the very element that controls our lives.
Everyone wants to be appreciated and desires to be useful in something. For instance, we can become useful in an organization in the same manner that we can become useful in the church life. The church is not built up through such exercise if it is something apart from the revelation of Christ. The church can only be built up through what has been revealed of Christ to us. When our operation in the church life becomes something out of Christ’s revelation in us, then the church is being built up.
Some people love money. If offered three million dollars to move to a place in Alaska where there is no church, many would take it. Which would you choose: Christ or three million dollars? You have to say, according to the revelation of Christ I have seen in my spirit, I choose the church. But if I am in my flesh, I might choose the three million dollars. Therefore we must have Christ unveiled to us, for apart from the unveiled Christ, we have no way to live the church life. And, the richer the Christ we experience through our revelation of Him, the more we will be able to follow Him and live our life according to Him. In this way, He will be able to build His church.
Brothers and sisters, we must help the saints to see Christ. Don’t be bothered when they are drawn off by other things. Simply help them to see Christ. Once they see Jesus, they will drop the other things and choose Him. I left a good job to follow Christ, but I did not have any sense that I had lost anything, for I had seen Christ. I had become His follower.
Such revelation is not something you can arrive at from reading books or from meditation. Jesus told us that flesh and blood do not reveal to us who He is. It is the Father in the heavens who gives us the revelation of Christ. Only through such revelation can everything we know about Christ become real.
This is an excerpt from the article “The Advancement of the Divine Revelations and Their Applications (1)”