The Church on Mission // Matthew 16:18

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. This is the day that evil thought it experienced its greatest victory but suffered its unexpected defeat. This leads us to Easter, which is the reason we have the hope that we do.

As we have taken time in this space this week, we are looking at the questions I ask when leading someone to Christ and in preparation of Baptism. So far we have considered how God made us with a plan and a purpose for our lives, but sin gets in the way. Jesus came to die for our sins and lead us back to God. God sends us the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior to lead, guide, and direct our lives. Now we see that the Holy Spirit deploys us to help us make Jesus known through the church, or the Body of Christ in the World.

We see in today’s verse from Matthew 16:18 how Jesus told Peter that he would be the rock upon which the church was built. This carries such beautiful connotations, not because of Peter’s greatness, but his eventual failings. Peter denied Jesus three times on the night of Christ’s betrayal. He came back to Jesus after the Resurrection and was restored to lead the movement that would change the world. This is a massive message of hope for everyone, because we need not be perfect to join the church on its mission, just recognizing how we are nothing without the love, grace, and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.

Peter experienced this first-hand in his own rejection of, and redemption by, Christ. Peter, who was the rock Jesus was going to build the church referred to Jesus — the one who was rejected — as the Chief Cornerstone! In other words, Peter knew that he, and the church by virtue, was nothing without Jesus. And Jesus knew that hell stood no chance when people who experienced the saving love of God dedicated their lives to that message and mission. So, I ask if a person will commit their lives to the church as a way to fight back against the spiritual forces of wickedness.

Yes, the church is full of imperfect people trying to do a perfect work, but from Peter forward, lives are changed — and the world is changed as a result — when we give our lives to the work of sharing the Good News of God in Christ Jesus. This is our purpose. Jesus frees us from sin. The Holy Spirit deploys us into the world. And the church becomes the vehicle by which we overcome our failures to live into salvation through the forgiveness of sin.

So, will you be part of Christ’s Body, the church, and work to push back on the gates of hell? I pray so on this Good Friday and every day, too. After all, this is the day we remember evil’s defeat and can wash ourselves in the flowing blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To God be the glory, now and forever. Amen.