There was a young boy who worked with his father, a carpenter. His name was Joshua. It was a favorite name of the people who lived in and around the city of Bethlehem. It was a name given to him, not by his mother and father, but by an angel of the Lord. His was a special name because it had to do with the purpose of his being born into this world of sin. His name was to be Joshua, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.” Christ Jesus is the “only Redeemer of God’s elect” who “being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever” (W.S.C. A. 21). The Redeemer alone is our Savior, who is capable of cleansing us from our sin, of paying the ransom price, of satisfying the justice of God; taking upon himself, on our behalf, the sin and guilt. His name is Christ Jesus (Joshua/Jehovah is salvation): “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5–6).
Two other names are connected with our Savior’s name of Joshua (Jesus). They are Christ and Lord. Christ (Messiah) tells us that he was the anointed one of the Father. He is the one who fulfills all of the wonderful promises of the covenant of the Old Testament. He is sent as the only begotten Son of God, and that believing in him we shall have life in his NAME. When we call our Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ, we are claiming his authority over us as belonging to him, both in salvation and daily sanctification. We must, therefore, with one will and one voice, “glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:6).
We cannot know Christ apart from the Word of God written. One of the keys that drive us to enter the wisdom of heaven, to learn of him who gave his life that we might have life, is found in John 20:31: “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing ye might have life through his name.”
Jesus came to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” Even as our Lord asks this question, he sets the truth before his disciples that he is the incarnate Son of God, the Messiah. He is the Word made flesh who “dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He spoke of himself, saying, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
Christ’s disciples answer his question, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” The Lord then asks of his disciples, “But who say ye that I am?” The disciples of the Lord need to answer this question today. The answer must clearly speak of the Christ as revealed in his Word, and not reflect the thoughts of the world. The world loves to define our faith for us. The world and its cults and pagan governments define a savior foreign to ours. Scripture truth does not come from the thoughts of men, but of God. Thus, we must study the Word of God that we might truly have the divine answer for those who might ask us as about the Savior whom we so praise and witness: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last time for you” (1 Peter 1:18–20).
Discussion: How do those around you answer Christ’s question? What is your answer?
Simon Peter answers Christ’s question, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is a student who knows the answer to the teacher’s question. The student finds pleasure in answering the question, and so pleases his professor; who in one way or another taught him that answer. Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the one sent by God. The God who sent Jesus is the living God. He is the God of Abraham and of Isaac. He is not the stone-god of the pagan. He is the God in who is life. Peter’s face must have glowed when he answered His Lord.
Peter’s answer is followed by our Lord’s declaration, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Blessed: this word tells us about the inward state of the believer. This is the person who is inwardly happy because he is indwelt by the Spirit in Christ. Revealed: this word means that a veil has been removed; that which was unknown is made known, a supernatural revelation. Therefore, Peter made his testimony, not by his own volition, but by the will of God. His heavenly Father made known the truth of who Christ is to the heart and mind of Peter. Truth is revealed to us today through the Word of God written, by the Spirit of God, to our hearts and mind. We do not discover truth on our own. It comes from our heavenly Father.
Discussion: How do we come to know the truth that Christ is our Savior and Lord?
Jesus said to Peter, “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” The church at Corinth is called as that which belongs to God, “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:2). They are called God’s building, their foundation being no less than Jesus Christ Himself (1 Cor. 3:9–11). The rock is Christ Jesus. How solid is this rock? It is such that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Calvin gives us a true understanding of this truth: “Against all the power of Satan the firmness of the Church will prove to be invincible, because the truth of God, on which the faith of the Church rests, will ever remain unshaken” (Commentary). Whom shall we fear? Our Lord holds us in his hands and promises to never let us go. Shall the shield of faith ever lose its power to quench the fiery darts of the wicked? Christ will build His church! There is always victory for the Child of God.
Christ goes on to say that he will give to Peter 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.” For example, “We know that there is no other way in which the gate of life is opened to us than by the word of God; and hence it follows that the key is placed, as it were, in the hands of the ministers of the word” (Calvin). It is the treasure of heaven, the gospel of saving grace that is poured out of heaven that will not return to God void. His Word will accomplish the loosing and the binding according to His promises.
Discussion: What does it mean that the Church belongs to Christ, and that he alone shall build it?
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