15 He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to 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 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."
For those in church ministry, what a wonderfully freeing word, “I will build My church.” It is so sweet, let’s savor it and take it apart word by word.
“I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
I: Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, it is He who will build the church. Not me, not the pastor or the worship leader or the Leadership Team, but our beloved Jesus, our Savior, and Creator of the universe.
will: Not possibly, or maybe, or He is planning to, but He will. It is sure as the dawn.
build: It will grow, take shape, get larger, be constructed according to plan. It will not stay stagnant, it will not be downsized, it will not die. It is living and it will continue to develop, and be built up.
My: Not your church, or their church. Jesus is only interested in building His own church. If we want to get in on what He is doing, He is already building it. He gives no promises on building what is not His.
church: This was no building that He was talking about. This is the first time the word Church is used in the NIV. He was talking about the Body of believers.
and: Plus, in addition to, please note this extra part of the promise…
the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it: Absolutely no power, on earth or in the underworld, no person, no matter how powerful in a worldly way, not matter how evil or slick or stupid, will win in the battle to destroy Christ’s church. No power, no where.
This is so sweet because I cannot mess it up, because it is not me who is building the church. It is Jesus. Neither can anyone else, who I am afraid is doing it wrong, they cannot cause the church to fail. No matter what, Jesus will prevail!
So I can just go on vacation now, right. Right.
But see how Jesus starts this by pointing out how Peter is different from other people who have heard His message. To Peter it has been revealed, from His Father in heaven, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is on this Rock of faith that Jesus builds His church. Using us, who know Him, love Him and are devoted to Him, as the foundation to continue His building of the church. He is the cornerstone (Esphesians 2:20), but He builds His church on us.