And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
In Matthew 16, we see the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, demanding signs even though the could not see and interpret the clearly visible evidence of Christ, the Messiah, standing before them in the flesh of Jesus. These men were deep in religion but blind to the truth. Their faith was tied up in what they could see and measure in this world by the law, not by any understanding of the “heart”, the “why”, the “being”, the spiritual goings on behind the things clearly visible to them. Then after they have departed from the Pharisees, Jesus warns his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees when their concerns fall back onto food and the concerns of this physical world. He makes the point that it is about faith. If we have faith in God, He will provide.
You see, Jesus taught publicly to the Pharisees who were not willing to listen and receive the truth. The Pharisees were very good at “practicing” religion. They were very good at putting on a public show of attending services and acting pious. But behind closed doors and within their private hearts, they were far from God. But Christ didn’t just teach publicly to be seen, He also taught privately to his disciples who were truly seeking to learn and understand.
Then, when Simon Peter stood before Jesus and replied “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – when Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, as the Messiah, as God come in the flesh to this world, it is this act of true, heartfelt confession upon which Christ builds His church. Jesus proclaims “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” And in doing this, He makes it clear that Almighty God has called and chosen Peter, just as the father calls and choses us, His children. Our act of confessing and surrendering is a reaction to the call – it is He who first loved us, and our response is a reaction to being adopted into the family of our Almighty Heavenly Father. It is not an emotional reaction to a message that results in a surrender out of fear, or seeking reward, or anything focused on self – it is an awareness and understanding imparted by God upon his called and chosen children.
This is the church, the body of believers, called and chosen by God to be His manifestation within this world, to be His Will done on earth as it is in heaven. We who are His children are participating in the Kingdom of God even now as we walk faithfully in the Spirit with our Lord and Savior. And those who are His, those called and chosen, cannot be wrestled from His hand, and the gates of Hades will not overcome the true church of believers.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.