Matthew 16:13-28 Apostle’s Creed Series 13 English Standard Version
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Most people in the world could not answer the simple question, “What is Jesus doing right now?” People who know the Apostle’s Creed might say that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father Almighty. That would be a good answer and you would be right.
But is Jesus really just sitting there? We know He ascended and sat down. On the Yahoo website there is a place to ask questions and get answers. A teenager asked, “What’s Jesus doing up in heaven right now? Since he is omnipotent, he must have a lot of free time?”
Does Jesus have free time? Is He bored waiting to come back to earth and judge the living and the dead or is He busy? There were some interesting answers to the question.
One person answered that, “Jesus is very busy saving souls and preparing a place in his Father’s house.” Another person said, “He doesn’t have any time at all. Heaven exists outside of time and there is no such thing as time in heaven.” A smart-aleck gave that answer. I checked to see if it was Adam. Another said Jesus is, “watching over His sheep.” And after dozens of possible answers were posted, someone finally threw up their keyboard in exasperation and typed, “no one knows. We cannot ask these kinds of questions because we cannot find the answer. Not even theologians, not even the Pope knows.”
Well, that might not be quite accurate. The Bible does tell us what Jesus is up to. The Pope probably does know. More importantly, the Church should know so that we can be comforted, inspirited, and exhorted to join in His activity. To be ignorant is to miss the opportunity.
First and foremost, Hebrews 3:1 says that Jesus is active as the Apostle and high priest of our confession. Jesus is called the Apostle for He is speaking to us about the Father. Jesus is called the High Priest for He is interceding for us before the Father. This is all explained in great detail in Hebrews 3:1-6. There is a great contrast between Moses and Jesus. Moses got glory by working in God’s house as a servant. Jesus gives glory to God’s house by working as the Son.
Hebrews 3:7 and following explains that through Jesus’ High Priestly work there is a rest available for the house of God. Jesus has entered that rest. Jesus is faithfully bringing us into that same eternal rest.
Second, Jesus is mediating. Mediation implies that two sides must come together. On one side, we see us who are born into sin and on the other side, a Holy God who cannot tolerate any kind of iniquity. And because God loves us He sent a mediator. The apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:4-5 that God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
One commentator wrote, “A mediator becomes effective when both sides can trust him. The mediator must be able to represent the interest of God, but at the same time, represent our interest.” Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. He is the perfect mediator. He knows and understands where we are coming from and He knows why we are the way we are.”
Third, Jesus is interceding. Hebrews 7:23-28 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but Jesus holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Jesus lives forever and will never stop interceding for us. Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Fourth, Jesus is advocating on our behalf. I’ve never had to hire or retain a lawyer, but I do have an advocate between me and God the Father. The scripture states in 1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Jesus has never lost a case and He has favor with the one who wrote the law.
There are ten items. These first four overlap so let me make a group application.
The Devil goes before the Father and speaks slanderous words. Revelation 12:10 labels Satan the accuser of the brethren. Satan lied about Job before God. God allowed trials for Job which showed Job’s unwavering obedience. I wouldn’t guess that Satan lies when slandering me before the Father. I provide plenty of fodder for his accusations. But Jesus, sitting right next to the Father, speaks in my behalf.
Better than the blood of Able which cried out for justice, the blood of Jesus cries out for our forgiveness. And the advocacy of the blood of Christ wins the argument every time.
Defeated, the devil turns to whisper in our ears with the same kind of slander saying, “You have no inheritance with the family of God. You’re trapped by sin. Stained by moral failure, you are too far gone. You are mine.” And the same blood of Jesus speaks back to us, “I bore your sin on my body on the tree. You are clothed in my clean and righteous robes. I put a ring of family inclusion on your hand. By my stripes you are healed. You are mine.”
Fifth, Jesus is our shepherd. Psalm 23 speaks about Jesus being our Good Shepherd. Jesus guides us through life. Through His shepherding our cup runneth over. His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives. The Good Shepherd leads us, guides us, protects us, and we shall not want for anything as we abide under His care.
Sixth, Jesus is currently acting as the true Lord over all the nations. 1 Peter 3:22 says that Jesus has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. That’s not a future truth. It has happened.
There is no power or throne lifted above Jesus. No authority is greater than Him. His name is above every name. All things have been subjected to the eternal authority as the Son. Ephesians 1:20 prays a prayer that one day we might understand this. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places”
These sorts of truths about Jesus have the power to change the way we think about our employment, our life challenges, money, relationships and our prayer life. It’s like what Paul discover, For me to live is Christ: to die is gain. Jesus is the ultimate truth. He is life itself.
Seventh, Jesus is preparing a place for us. John 14:1-3 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The best ideas God ever had were fully utilized when the Son made this first creation. This world does not reflect God’s second best. The whole earth was inhabitable. There was no scorching heat, no weeds, no sweat, no trouble. But sin exchanged our pleasant dwelling in God’s creation with suffering and hardship and pain. Jesus redeems the creation.
The cross removed the penalty of sin. The broken body of Christ removed curse of sin. The blood removed the stain of sin. The resurrection removed the power of sin. The ascension removed the weight of sin, and the return of Christ will remove all the presence of sin. Our sin will be gone forever.
And right now, in some way that I can’t really explain but is revealed to us in the Bible, Jesus is active in preparing a second Garden of Eden for His people. What we lost by Adam’s disobedience will be restored by the Second Adam’s obedience. And there will be a new heavenly Jerusalem, a city of Zion for God’s people. Jesus is doing that right now. I got three left.
Eighth, Jesus is receiving the souls of the blessed saints. Acts 7:54–59 Stephen the first martyr being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But the religious leaders cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with one impulse. And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
Ninth, Revelation 4 and 5 clearly shows Jesus being praised by the inhabitants of heaven. We’ll save that heavenly vision for a later sermon.
Tenth, and the reason for choosing the Matthew text: Jesus is directing and empowering His church. Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Understand this: Israel was built on Abraham. If you want the blessings of Abraham then you have to follow Abraham in looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10) In the same way the Church is built on Peter. If you want the blessings of the keys of the kingdom that Jesus gave to Peter then you must follow in the confession of Peter and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
When Jesus was speaking to Martha at the tomb of Lazarus He asked her to believe in this confession that He is Messiah. John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
This is the chief work of Jesus at this time. It is the Church’s Great Commission. Jesus sent the Spirit to enable us to help our neighbors to grow into this good confession. We are a city on a hill holding the light of Jesus. And if we do not share this light then we are not setting our minds on the things of God, but on the things of man. When we do that we become the hindrance for the progress of the church and then we deserve the same rebuke Jesus gave to Peter in verse 23. We must not put this converting confession under a basket of laziness or inactivity.
We must boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. That means He is Messiah. As the Anointed One He is bringing the chosen people to the Father. He is currently our High Priest, our Mediator, our Intercessor, our Advocate, our Shepherd, our Lord, the Builder of the new Jerusalem, He is welcoming the saints, He is the center of all worship and He is the leader of this church. We must join Jesus in these activities as we live in this community.
By the blood of Jesus we must be overcoming the power and influence of the Devil. We are to be pushing back the gates of hell within Tucker. We would be most blessed if our activity was the same as Jesus. May our testimony be that (Isaiah 61:1-3) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us, because the Lord has anointed us to bring good news to the poor; he has sent us to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Brethren. Sisters and brothers in the presence of God. Let’s awaken to our calling in Christ Jesus. Let us be diligent to make this place all that it can be for the Lord’s sake. Jesus desires to be active in us for His glory. Let’s be filled with His Spirit to that end. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.