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Matthew 16:13-20

The Question

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 3, 2019

Of all the questions a person will be asked, there is one question that stands out as the most important question of all. It’s so important that one’s answer will not only impact their todays of this life, it will also impact their eternal tomorrows. It is for that reason that I call it “The Question”. We will discover what “The Question” is along with the correct answer so that we may experience blessed todays and glorious eternal tomorrows.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Question

Matthew 16:13-20


1.Do you ever feel like you’re bombarded with questions all day long? Questions, questions, questions from the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow at night?

ILLUS – A U.K. study in 2013 determined which professions were asked the most questions per hour each day.

2.The truth is, each of us will field many questions over the course of our lives.

3.But of all the questions a person will be asked, there is one question that stands out as the most important question of all.

4.It’s so important that one’s answer will not only impact their todays of this life, it will also impact their eternal tomorrows.

5.It is for that reason that I call it “The Question”.

6.Tonight, we will discover what “The Question” is along with the correct answer so that we may experience blessed todays and glorious eternal tomorrows.

Matthew 16:13-20


1.After feeding the 4,000 and healing many Gentiles in the region called the Decapolis, Jesus traveled with His disciples about 25 miles to the north of the Sea of Galilee to an area known as Caesarea Philippi.

2.It was called Caesarea Philippi because it was founded by Herod Philip in honor of the Emperor Caesar.

3.To the north of Caesarea Philippi, you can see the majestic Mount Hermon, with a peak over 9,000 feet, covered with snow almost all year long.

4.Some of the headwaters of the Jordan River flow from this place. There is also a famous rock that stands massively out of the mountain from where the water flows out of a cave that the water was carved out of the limestone.

5.The spring has been called Panias, or Banias, named after the Greek god Pan, “god of the desolate places”. In fact, the Temple of Pan was built at the base of the mountain and its remnants are visible today.

6.It was there, that Jesus asked the disciples two questions, one general and the other personal in nature.

Transition – From these verses, we glean deep insight into who Jesus is, who Peter is, and who we are as the Church.

I.  Who is Jesus?

  • Jesus first asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (13)
  • The disciples declared that there were many opinions swirling about regarding Jesus. (14)
    • Some said He was John the Baptist because, like John, Jesus called people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
    • Others said Elijah because, like Elijah, Jesus performed many signs and wonders in order to call Israel back to God during a time of great apostasy.
    • Still others said Jeremiah because, like Jeremiah the “weeping prophet”, Jesus had compassion for the lost.
  • There are also many opinions today. If you were to take a poll and ask people to respond to that question, many would answer:
    • “Jesus was a great teacher.”
    • “Jesus was a good example because He lived a moral life.”
  • Then Jesus asked them a second question, “But who do you say that I am?” (15) This is “The Question!”
  • In the Greek, Peter’s answer is powerful and clear. “You are the Son of God, the Christ.” (16)
  • In fact, it was for this reason the Jews had Jesus killed by the Romans.
Matthew 26:63-66, And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

A. This is not a trick question  

1.In fact, it’s an open book test!

2.After Peter gave his answer, Jesus said, “… flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (17)

APPL – Please note that since God reveals the truth to you, it is the most important question you will ever answer! It is not a trick question, again, it is an open book test.

  • You do not have to rely on the opinions of men.
  • God has revealed the answer in His Word and has given evidence! How?
  • God confirmed the truth about Jesus by raising Him from the grave on the third day! The resurrection!
  • Here’s the takeaway… God loves you and He wants you to pass the test.

John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

B. Everyone must give an answer

1.“The Question”, “Who do you say Jesus is?” will be answered by everyone. This is the one question that will impact your todays and tomorrows. Why?

Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

2.We live in a time and age in which God has allowed each man or woman to choose whom they will serve.

Joshua 24:15, If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

3.But there will come a day when God will reveal His Son in such a way that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, meaning, one day, everyone will give the same answer!

Philippians 2:9-11, For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

4.There will even come a day, and I believe very soon, when the nation of Israel will all recognize Him as their Messiah.

Zechariah 12:10, I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

Transition – Speaking of Israel, notice that there is a shift in verse 18, for Jesus mentioned the “Church” for the first time. Why?

  • Because Israel had rejected Him as their King, a rejection that was confirmed when the Jews handed Him over to Pilate to be crucified.
  • So, Jesus began to prepare the apostles for the establishment of the Church after His death and resurrection.

II. Who is the Church?

  • After Peter gave Jesus his answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, Jesus told Peter who he was and on what the church would be built.
  • This is a very important point for us to be clear on since there has been so much confusion over the course of church history.

A.The Church is built on the Rock 

1.In verse 17, Jesus used the name, Simon Barjona, but in verse 18, Jesus called him Peter and then said, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

2.First, I love the fact that Jesus said it is, “My church.” “My” is a relationship word and here we find our identity, power, and hope.

APPL – The Church belongs to Jesus!

  • It is called His “bride”! (Signifying a unique, intimate relationship!)
  • It was purchased with His blood at Calvary.
  • It was established on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)
  • And Jesus will come again for His bride, the Church, so that we may be with Him forever.
  • We, the Church, belong to Jesus! Praise the Lord!

ILLUS – Many people have misunderstood what Jesus said here to Peter.

3.The Roman Catholic Church has taken this to mean that Jesus was installing Peter as the first pope of the church and after Peter, there would be a succession of popes. But this question is addressed when one looks at the Greek language.

4.Jesus said, “You are Petros” (masculine word for “small stone”), upon this “petra” (feminine word for a “large rock or stonewall”), I will build My church.”

5.This means that Jesus will build His Church on the “great truth” that Peter declared; Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God!

6.If Jesus meant He would build His Church on Peter, who was known for putting his foot in his mouth as we will see next week, then Jesus could have said, “You are Petros, and I will build My Church on you.” But He did not!

7.The Apostle Paul confirmed this in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:19-21, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord

8.Also note that Peter never claimed such status for himself. In fact, he said that Christ is the Cornerstone and that we, the Church, are the living stones built upon it!

1 Peter 2:4-5, And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ

B. The gates of Hades will not overpower it

1.Likewise, this part of the verse has been misunderstood, therefore, it is important for us to look at it carefully.

2.First, note that “gates” are defensive in nature. Therefore, Jesus was declaring that the gates of Hades will not be able to stand against the authority of the Church.

3.The word “Hades” means “death”. So, this was a reference to the “kingdom of death”.

4.Death has a grip on humanity and Jesus gave authority to the Church to bind the enemy and loosen people from the grip of death that is upon them through the proclamation of the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 2:1-7, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

5.Next, Jesus said the “keys” would be given to the Church for spiritual warfare so that “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (19)

a.Notice, the church does not dictate to heaven what to bind or loose.

b.Rather, the church is under the authority of heaven, so when heaven reveals what needs to be bound or loosed, the church, which is led by the Holy Spirit, will act!

APPL – What amazing truths about Jesus, Peter, and the Church. These truths should not divide us but unite us! Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We are the Church, the bride of Jesus Christ!

  • In Jesus we have our identity.
  • In Jesus we have His power, authority, and victory!
  • In Jesus we have an eternal hope!


APPL – In closing, the question that Jesus asked His apostles that day is a question each of us must answer.

  • To say Jesus was a good man or a great teacher is not enough to save your soul from the consequences of your sin.

C. S. Lewis made the point clear when he said in his book, Mere Christianity, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

  • Is Jesus your Christ, the Son of the Living God?
  • I am not talking about knowing the facts in your head.
  • Nor am I talking about the possibility that you were raised in a Christian home and have always believed.
  • I am asking if you have personally asked Jesus to save your soul, to forgive your sin, and give you the gift of eternal life?
  • God’s Word promises…

Romans 10:9, … that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

Matthew 16:13-20     NASB

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

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