At a point in Jesus’ third and final year of his ministry, he and his disciples were in Caesarea Philippi and Jesus asked them a question: Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
The disciples gave the answers that they had heard from people, that some said he was a prophet, or that he was even John the Baptist come back to life.
Then Jesus asked, “But whom say ye that I am?”
Answering this follow-up question would require courage. As we see several times in the Bible, Simon Peter was the first to act. (We call him Simon Peter or sometimes just Peter, but it is from this story that Simon gets the nickname of Peter.)
Simon boldly declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Jesus was pleased that Simon was being taught from heaven that Jesus is the Christ, Savior of the world. Being taught this by heaven is the process by which Jesus would build his church after he was gone. And with Simon now using this building stone, Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” meaning rock or stone.
Besides receiving a nickname, Peter received power from Jesus to perform acts in this life that would have effect in the next life. Such power is the keys of the kingdom, the authority to act for Jesus in his work of saving souls.
What do you think?
- When you are asked what you think of Jesus, what is your answer?
- What do you think of the nickname Jesus gave Simon?
- What nickname would you like Jesus to give you?
- If Jesus gave you power to do things now that impact heaven in the next life, how would you treat this power? How would you use this power?
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