Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees of Jesus’ day had false teaching that needed contradiction. The true good news of a glorious future resurrection through the work of a Messiah was the only safe message for the church.
While Peter was able to eventually confess that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he could not fathom that the achievement of God’s ultimate purposes required the cross. Jesus would use His chosen friends to proclaim the truth of the Scriptures, but He Himself would be the Rock upon which He would build His church. Only our Lord could ever have been the “Cornerstone” in “Zion” (Isaiah 28:16 cited in 1 Peter 2:6).
The “gates of hell” would not be able to “prevail” against Christ’s worshiping assembly. Jesus would grant the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” to fallible human beings within His covenant community. They would preach the gospel, administer sacraments, and pastor the flock, making their assessments regarding rightful participation in the Lord’s assembly based on the Word of the Almighty.
Though God would have a special role for such shepherds and teachers among His people (Ephesians 4:11), all of those who enjoyed the communion of His table would need to have a fuller appreciation for the work of Christ than Peter originally understood. They would need to embrace the unique role of the Son of God as the Sin-Bearer, following their Lord in a life of sacrificial love. “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross.”
The life of blessing that God envisioned for humanity would not end with the death of Jesus on the cross. That one sacrifice would be the beginning of a new reign of heavenly love. The doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees could never have brought the world such a glorious hope.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, why have we been so slow to love and follow You? Why do we approach Your Word with doubt? Please grant believers a fuller measure of faith. The leaven of false teachers and hypocrites finds a ready ear even among Your disciples. Send us the Spirit of Christ and build Your church. Move us forward with the message of the forgiveness of sins. Help true preachers to proclaim the glory of the cross, for Your children walk too quickly in the direction of worldliness. Set our hearts upon Your ways, and show the faithful Your kingdom.