The Messiah As the Stone
In quoting Psalm 118:22-23, Jesus is reminding the leaders of the scriptural greeting given to Him by the crowd at His Triumphal Entry. The Messiah, the one who would replace the evil tenants in the master’s vineyard, was, “the stone which the builders rejected”—and they were in the very act of rejecting Him. The Messiah as the Stone is set before us in two passages in Isaiah, which are then quoted in the New Testament (Isaiah 8:13-15; 28:16). This theme appears in all of the gospels and also in 1 Peter. It is understandable that Peter should have been interested in this subject—Peter means “rock,” and this was the name the Lord had given Simon.
In fact, it is in an exchange between Peter and Jesus that Jesus is first described as a rock or stone. In Matthew 16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-19).
One important fact to note in this passage is that when Jesus gives Simon his new name, He uses the masculine form of the word, petros; but when He refers to the rock on which the church will be built, He uses the feminine form, petra. “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord,” for that is the doctrine on which the church is built. Facetiously, I once said, “Thank God we do not have to sing, ‘The church’s one foundation is Peter’s bones in Rome.”’ After the meeting a man came to me and said, “Thank you for saying that. I had been wavering, but when you said that, it was as though a drawn shade was snapped back. I saw the horror of that position, and I’ve come back to Christ as my one foundation.”
I believe that if Peter had ever known that people were going to build a church on him, he would have reacted in astonished horror. It would be like planning a civic center and saying, “Let’s save money by making the foundation out of Jell–O.” Peter was totally incapable of being the foundation of anything. Christ is God’s foundation stone.
- What does the name Peter mean? Why is the significant?
- What does Jesus mean that “on this rock I will build My church”?
- How do we know he is not referring to Peter?