MF Blume

There has been much talk about who or what the rock of Matt. 16 is upon which the church is built. I wish to propose a thought of the answer with the comparison of Scripture with Scripture in mind, and a look at Peter's own words.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:17-18

Notice the name Jesus addressed Peter as: Simon Barjona.

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
John 1:42

"Barjona" means "son of Jonah." Notice the two elements in Jesus' discussion with Peter of the name Simon Barjona and the note regarding the gates of Hell not prevailing against the church. If we were to look at the name Barjona (son of Jonah) as a spiritual connection to JONAH, the prophet, about whom the book in the Old Testament is written, we can see a truth. The two elements are connected in the book of Jonah. Jonah proved very much an object lesson in the New Testament. He was a great foreshadow of Christ in the shadow of being three days and three nights in the depths.

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 12:40

When we read about Jonah's account in the whale's belly we notice something that links him with Jesus' words to Peter.

Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, [and] thou heardest my voice.
Jonah 2:1-2

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars [was] about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
Jonah 2:6

The depths of Jonah's predicament were described by him as the "belly of hell." And we read of "the earth with her bars." This seems to connect with Jesus' statement regarding Peter, son of Jonas, and the "gate of hell shall not prevail against it."

Jesus not only called Peter the son of Jonah, but also told him that the Church was to be built upon a rock, and such a church would experience the lack of the gates of hell prevailing against it.

In Jonah's experience, the gates of hell did not prevail against him. They tried to entrap him due to his error and his fear which caused him to disobey God.

In the light of Jonah's experience, can we see that Jesus' words to Peter were a kind of prophecy and preparatory warning regarding Peter's future error and fear? Like Jonah, Peter later walked out on God when Jesus was taken prisoner.

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and [so did] another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also [one] of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
John 18:15-17

Like Jonah, Peter, in fear, walked away from the will of God and found himself bound in condemnation, much like Jonah was bound in the belly of hell with her gates around him.

Many of Jesus' words were later realised and found to be of great encouragement long after they were first spoken. I think He intended them to be that way. For example:

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words,
Luke 24:4-8

These words spoken in Matt. 16 to Peter were to be realised later when Peter would feel the sting of condemnation.

Peter had a ministry as did Jonah. Peter's ministry included the encouraging of other disciples. The enemy weas out to stop it:

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Luke 22:31-32

The word, "you," in verse 31 is a PLURAL word in the Greek, referring to ALL the disciples. But the term "THEE" in verse 32 was singularly referring to Peter. He would strengthen people. However his ministry was thwarted when he feared the events of the crucifixion and cursed three times. He backed out of his ministry just as Jonah backed out of his ministry and ran away from Ninevah instead of heading there to fulfill God's will for him. But Jonah found MERCY in God's eyes.

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay [that] that I have vowed. Salvation [is] of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry [land].
Jonah 2:7-10

Jonah commented about the MERCY God could show, which he believed for God to show to him. Jonah manifested FAITH! Before he was delivered from the bars and the belly of hell, Jonah thanked God for deliverance. It requires faith for us to thank God for something He has not yet done. Since, however, Jonah prayed for deliverance, and believed he would be delivered, he thanked God for the answer that was as sure as done. Jonah commented about the heathen who do not see MERCY and in effect forsake their own mercy. Jonah's story stresses MERCY of God.

Notice how God showed mercy to Jonah, who in turn felt no mercy for the people of Ninevah before and after he preached to them. Perhaps Jonah fled away after hearing God's command to preach to Ninevah due to the lack of desire to see God spare them. If he could run away, Ninevah would not hear God's words of command to repent that they might be spared, and indeed be destroyed. And after Jonah did preach the message, he was still upset that God did not destroy them. He did not understand the need for MERCY to anybody else but himself. So you can see how the emphasis of the book is upon God's MERCY.

Peter had need of knowing God's MERCY after he so shamefully forsook the Lord. Condemnation heaped upon him and the gates of hell encompassed him about.

Hell's greatest tool in captivating people of God has always been CONDEMNATION. In thinking in such a condemning manner of themselves such people forget the MERCY of God. The condemnation Peter felt MUST have been alluded to by Jesus in Matt. 16 since Jesus mentioned Jonah and gates of hell in that discussion with Peter. Looking at the prophet Jonah, and his predicament in the belly of "hell" where the earth's "bars" held him back, and coupling that together with the MERCY of God that set Jonah free, we see a parallel with Peter that cannot be excused. It's too perfect a parallel.

So MERCY of God is definitely involved in this thought of Matt. 16. Thinking of God's MERCY and tying that thought together with the Church built on the ROCK we go to Peter's own words.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious. To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious,
1 Peter 2:2-4

Notice the word "gracious" in verse 3 connected with the "stone" of Christ in verse 4. The picture of MERCY and the ROCK becomes clearer when we read on.

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5

But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10

It is so clear what the rock is when thinking about both Jonah's and Peter's experiences, together with Peter's words. The Rock is, of course, Christ. And those who are in the church, built upon it, have received MERCY since we were formerly not a people, but heathens, excepting the few Jews who believed.

The lesson we can learn is that the MERCY of God makes the stone so precious to us. And WHEN WE ARE BLOWN WITH WINDS OF OPPOSITION AND CONDEMNATION due to our failure, we can see the utter precious nature of our Rock, Jesus, in manifesting His mercy to us, and reinstating us.

The wise man built his house on the rock, as Jesus built His house, the church, upon Himself.. The winds blew and beat upon that house, but it fell not. When we are in error and fail, and begin experiencing condemnation we can look to our rock, Who is higher than we are, and enjoy His restoring MERCY. That is how we will not fall if we're upon this rock.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock [that] is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, [and] a strong tower from the enemy.
Psalm 61:2-3

The gates of hell lock souls up in the devil's prison-house of condemnation. But such gates cannot prevail against a soul who cries out to God for MERCY.

Jesus, in Matt. 16, told Peter in effect, "Son of Jonah, you shall slip and fall, and hell shall lock you up in condemnation. But the gates of hell will not prevail against you or anybody else in my Church if you will choose to remember my mercy and call upon me. Hell's gates closed in upon Jonah, but they did not prevail against him. He was set free. Neither will you be bound by hell's gates. You are upon a rock - Me. My mercy will be your precious stay."

He is the rock. And that rock encompasses God's mercy. When we make a mistake and fall, we will not be destroyed, even if we become weak.

The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.
Psalm 18:2