June 29, 2008 - St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

Today's Reading: Matthew 16:13-19

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 4:1-24; Acts 9:23-43

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Did Jesus promise to build the church on the man Peter or what Peter said? Wrong question! It tries to separate what the Lord has joined together. The fact is, Peter was a man, called by Jesus to preach what He confessed: Jesus is the Christ, the Savior. It is the Word of God which saves us from our sins, but without an actual man to preach it with his mouth, the Word of God would never be heard. So we see that as a preacher, Peter is critical and important and necessary for the church. The church, in fact, is built upon the foundation of the preachers, the apostles and prophets whom the Lord calls (Ephesians 2:20). On the other hand, as a man, Peter is just Peter and makes no difference to the church. He could just as easily be Paul or Matthew or John.

Same goes for your pastor. His personality is not the big deal. How he dresses is not the big deal. What hobbies he likes or what his favorite food is doesn't matter. But what comes out of his mouth is a big deal. He preaches that Jesus is the Son of God who came into the flesh, died for your sins and rose again. He preaches that this same Jesus delivers that forgiveness to you in water, through the word, and in Jesus' body and blood.

That's what Peter and Paul preached. (Just read all about it in the book of Acts.) And they were Apostles. That is, preachers who were called by Jesus Himself and given power to do miracles as a witness to the Gospel that they were preaching. There are no more Apostles. They were the first generation of the church and were unique and special men. Yet, what they preached is the same as what a faithful pastor today preaches: repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus' Name.

So did Jesus mean He would build the church on Peter or on what Peter said? The answer is “yes.” And with that faithful preaching of Peter and Paul it continues today, pointing us to and giving us Jesus, not even the gates of hell can knock it down! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

O God, who gave Your Apostles Peter and Paul grace to lay down their lives for the sake of Your dear Son; give to us, we beseech You, the same constancy, that we may at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for St. Peter and St. Paul)