April 19, 2024
George T. Ferrier

That Rock Was Christ 

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” Matthew 16:15

     In 2013, I was in Caesarea Philippi, located twenty-five miles north of the Sea of Galilee at the southwest base of Mount Hermon, three miles south of Lebanon. In the Lord’s time this scenic area was dedicated to the worship of Pan, the Greek nature deity. A highway to Damascus snaked through there and travelers often stopped to make sacrifices. At the bottom of a cliff lay a cave and a series of idols lined rockface crannies nearby. According to Josephus a powerful stream of water flowed through the cavern to a very deep pool in the cave. Our Jewish guide explained that to pagan minds, the cave offered a gate to the underworld, known as the “Gates of Hades.” He passionately ended his talk saying, “in the midst of all this idolatry, Peter proclaimed that Christ was the Son of the living God.”

     The Lord Jesus had asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then the Lord responded, “But who do you say that I am?” (vv. 13-15).

     The Lord still asks that penetrating question today. Like then there are many wrong ideas. Atheists, agnostics, and humanists either deny there was a historical Jesus or at best acknowledge Him as a great teacher. Various cults rank Him as the greatest created being. Many religions place Him among the great prophets. All these erroneous responses and others fail to honor Him for who He truly is.

     There is only one correct answer. Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In response, the Lord Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 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” (vv. 16-18). 

     Throughout the Old Testament, the word “Rock” consistently symbolized God. Referring to Israel, Moses spoke of the “Rock who begot them,” the “Rock of his salvation,” and declared that their enemies’ rock is not like “our Rock” (Deut. 32:15, 18, 31). Peter’s declaration acknowledged Christ as both Messiah and the eternal Son of God. The Lord agreed, ascribing the divine symbol of “Rock” to Himself, proclaiming that through belief in Him sinners can be saved (Exo. 17:6; John 3:16; 1 Cor. 10:4). Upon this confession Christ continues to build His Church today.

     Pantheism, deism, and atheism, yesteryear and today have this in common. They all deny the deity of Christ, attempting to veil the glory of the One who is the very image of God (2 Cor. 4:3-6; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). The Bible stands apart, affirming that Christ is God. It is through the Son of God that we know the living God. It is through Christ our Savior that we enter into a relationship with God our Father. The Lord Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me…And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 14:6; 17:3).

     To truly reverence Christ, one must acknowledge Him as God. Christ said in John 5:23, “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Notice the words “just as.” To truly honor Him one must praise, worship, and obey Him as they would the Father.

     Someday Christ will relegate the false gods, cults, and religions of the world to the dustbin of history. The Gates of Hades shall not prevail against truth. Sadly, these doctrines of demons will lead their adherents to eternal punishment (John 3:18; 1 Cor. 10:20-21; 1 Tim. 4:1). Our desire is that all would see Christ for who He truly is, God manifested in the flesh. For “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God…and this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 4:15; 5:11-12). 

     “Who do you say that I am?” How one answers reveals the condition of their soul. In Christ is life and He has authority to grant eternal life to all who believe on Him. For He is God, Messiah, and the Redeemer who died for us at Calvary. What is your response?