Empowering the Church
“4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[g] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
In Matthew 16, Peter heard Jesus change his name (and identity) from Simon to Peter. Matthew 16:13-20 was probably one of the greatest moments of Peter’s life when Jesus recognized Peter as the rock on which the church would be built.
““13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[c] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[d] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:13-20 NIV
Now, years later when Peter writes his letter to encourage the church, he is passing along the blessing that Jesus gave to him. Peter is recognizing that it would be through the tired and discouraged believers in the early church, God was building a glorious temple (or spiritual house) using living stones (or Christians). Peter recognized that while Israel had a temple to come to worship God in by bringing Him sacrifices, Christians had a temple also. The difference is that Christians themselves were the temple! Although outwardly the early church may have looked like a group of tired, worn out folks persevering for their faith, Peter recognizes them instead as a royal priesthood offering sacrifices to the Most High God. The only mediator needed for the believer was now Jesus Christ Himself.
Peter argues in his letter that the early church no longer needed someone else to go before them to approach God. Through Christ, the church had direct access to God. There was no longer an elite group or priesthood that could claim special access to God. Peter shows that through Jesus Christ, the believer himself was now a temple set apart to God! God was no longer a distant entity, but an ever-present reality. Throughout the scripture, God spoke the promise to His people that “I will be with you.” Through Jesus, Peter teaches the church that the Holy Spirit was not present with them to invade their lives and to empower them for whatever challenges they faced.
Empower me Holy Spirit. In Jesus is all forgiveness and salvation. In the Holy Spirit is all comfort and power. I receive Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. I invite the Holy Spirit for my comfort and power in You. Amen.