Reflections: June 29, 2020

St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

By Alexander Lange

Today's Reading: Matthew 16:13-20
Daily Lectionary: 
Joshua 4:1-24; Acts 9:23-43

"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. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Rome thinks that Peter is superior to the other apostles -- that he is the head of the Church and representative of Christ. Rome thinks that Jesus gave a special office to Peter with special authority. The Pope stands in that office, and some believe there can be no Church without a pope.

They use our text from Matthew 16 to prove their assertions. "Jesus said that He will build the Church on Peter and that Church -- the one built on Peter -- shall stand forever.

In our text, Peter is speaking on behalf of the apostles. His confession is their confession. Thus, whatever Jesus says to Peter He says to the Twelve. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:19-20, God is building His Church, not on Peter, but on the confession of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone.

Did Jesus give the Keys of the kingdom to Peter? Yes, but He explicitly gives the Keys to the rest of the apostles as well in Matthew 18:18. Jesus didn't create a special office called the Papacy. He created one Office -- the Pastoral Office. Jesus gave pastors to His Church, commanding them to use the Keys on Her behalf -- to forgive the repentant sinners and to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant.

That's why the Church will stand forever. It has nothing to do with the Pope. It has everything to do with the forgiveness of sins. As long as the forgiveness that was won on the Cross is being distributed, the Church shall endure.

Hell still rages against you, so go to where the Keys are found. Go to your pastor, confess your sins to him, and let him loose them. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul)
- Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of  Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.

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