Online Bible Commentary
We Work Where We are Put
Matthew 16:15 He 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. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (NKJV)
After asking the disciples who the people thought He was, Jesus then asks the disciples who they, the disciples, thought He was (v. 15). Peter, being his impulsive self, jumped on that question.
Peter said "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (v. 16). This was the first time any disciple had called Him by this name. By addressing Jesus as the “living God” Peter was contrasting Him with the gods of Caesarea, where they were at the time. Jesus was living, unlike the idols and mythical gods of the region. Jesus was living, and was, therefore, superior over the other gods.
Jesus then blessed Peter (v. 17a), referring to him by his birth name, Simon Bar-Jonah (v. 17b), which means Simon, son of Jonah. Jesus knew that Peter could have known the correct answer only through divine revelation (v. 17c).
Jesus then granted upon Peter the great honor of being the first head of His church (v. 18). Jesus not only gave Peter the responsibility but also the authority, which was symbolized by the giving of the keys (v. 19).
Can you imagine if Jesus spoke these words to you? Peter must have thought: “How is this possible? Just a while back I was just a fisherman and this man came up to me and told me he was changing my name from Simon to Cephas which is Aramaic for Peter which means “rock” in the Greek. And all I’ve done is follow this man and been obedient to His teachings, but I’ve even messed that up at times.”
Peter was the most interesting of the disciples; a real rabble rouser, always speaking before thinking, denying Christ not once but three times, and lopping off the ear of the high priest with his sword when they came to arrest Jesus. It’s amazing that Jesus could ever use him at all!
But Jesus had big plans for Peter from the moment he met him and changed his name. All Peter did was to allow God to use him right where he was in that moment in time.
I once had the privilege to have dinner with the late Major Ian Thomas, the great Christian teacher, writer, and founder of Torchbearers Bible Schools. I had not yet been called to the ministry or gone to seminary, and really was just trying to figure out what plans God had for me.
The one thing I remember from that dinner is that Major Thomas told me “we work where we are put.” In other words, God has put us where we are at this moment in history so that is where we should work for Him. That is exactly what Peter did. That is a life lesson for us all.