Matthew 14: 23-33, 16: 13-8
1 Peter 2: 1-10
I would like to speak of the Lord Jesus as a Builder, and of the structure He is building, and the material He has for building. In Matthew 16 He speaks of “my assembly”. This is not the assembly from the point of view of what it is in heavenly relationships with Him, but it is what He is building here. It will soon be transported to heaven but at the moment what the Lord is building is here. It came into evidence at Pentecost and the Lord has been building and adding to it ever since. Is each one of us exercised to have part in that building? If it is His building, He will select the most suited material for it. He is not selecting any kind of material. Peter is an example of the kind of person He is building into His assembly. He was the leading apostle but he is also an example of the kind of material. The Lord is not building something that is attached to this world’s system, whether it be religious or political, because He is rejected here. Men are building up a system, and they considered Christ when He was here as they said, ’He is not suitable for our building. He is worthless’. That is what they said; they cast Him away as worthless. So the Lord Jesus is not building up anything in connection with this world’s system because He has no part in it.
The Lord Jesus also considered what was here in the world and He could not build that into what He was going to build. He could not build the Roman Empire into it, and He could not build the Jewish system into it, and He could not build the heathen darkness that enveloped the gentiles into it. So He began a completely new structure. The Lord Jesus felt it that He was rejected here; He did not find a home in the world; He could not because it was all so foreign to Him. Indeed it grieved Him in His heart to see what was transpiring in the world. He found comfort in His disciples and in that company of disciples there was the nucleus of what He was going to build.
In this section of scripture, the Lord is facing His rejection. The beginning of the chapter brings out that John the baptist was slain, that he was killed, and the Lord knew what was ahead for Himself, that he should be crucified and slain, but the Lord goes on with His service. He feeds the poor of the flock, and He puts His disciples through a testing experience. This was all preparation for part in the structure that He was going to build and Peter brings out the kind of material for that building. You might say, ’Well, Peter failed’, but he showed that he was in advance of the others when he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
It was a comfort that the Lord was on high. He was on the mountain praying and it is a comfort to us that the Lord takes account of us where we are and He is interceding for us. But these disciples were in a testing position; they were in this boat which was tossed by the waves, and the wind was contrary. It is not going to be easy if you are going to have part in what the Lord is doing. If you want an easy time here, you will not have part in this system. “But in the fourth watch of the night he went off to them, walking on the sea.” He waited until then, the fourth watch of the night. He could have come in the first watch of the night; He waited until the fourth watch of the night. That was deliberate on the Lord’s part. The Lord allows things to go on to test us. “And the disciples, seeing him walking on the sea, were troubled, saying, it is an apparition.” He was going off to them but they did not recognise Him, and it is an exercise; do we recognise the movements of the Lord Jesus? His movements at the present time are not in relation to the world. He is going to take up His rights and take up the affairs of this world, but His movements at the present time are in relation to His own who are here and this scripture brings out His supremacy. He was walking on the waters, however rough they were. Is not the Lord Jesus supreme? Is He not above everything here? We often get troubled, we must admit, but they did not recognise Him; “they cried out through fear. But Jesus immediately spoke to them, saying, Take courage; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answering him said, Lord, if it be thou command me to come to thee upon the waters”. I have known this, beloved brethren, in critical times in the testimony (and we are in critical days now), the Lord saying “it is I: be not afraid”. And Peter says, “Lord, if it be thou, command me to come to thee”. To whom can we go? In John’s gospel, Peter says to the Lord Jesus, “To whom shall we go?”, chap 6: 68. Not ’Where will we go?’: ’To whom will we go?’ Peter says in his epistle, “To whom coming, a living stone”. In that epistle he is drawing on his own experience to help the saints, but have we come to Him, beloved brethren? “Go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach”, Heb 13: 13. Peter left the boat and walked on the waters to go to Jesus. You might say, ’Oh well, he began to sink’, but first of all he walked on the waters to go to Jesus. No one else in the boat did that, perhaps they would rather stay in what they thought was the safety of the boat. The one thing about Peter, despite his failings, was that he had affection for the Lord and he would say, ’Lord, if that be thou, if that is where Thou art, I must reach Thee where Thou art. I would rather be with Thee than in the boat’.
And then he looked at the waves and he began to sink. He saw the trouble and he was afraid. I have often said to the Lord, ’Lord save me’. What was the answer? Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and saved him. Would Peter ever forget that experience? Would Peter forget it in all the troubles that faced him in the testimonial setting later? We need, beloved brethren, help in how to overcome. To be honest, I often feel very weak but He is strong. Sometimes the children sing -
I am weak but He is strong
- how true that is. His arm is there to stretch out and save us. The Lord had to rebuke them for their lack of faith and in His love He will rebuke us. He says in Revelation, “I rebuke and discipline as many as I love”, chap 3: 19. They came to the realisation of who the Lord Jesus was through this experience.
In Matthew 16 we come to another experience of Peter’s; this was a spiritual experience. Have you had a spiritual experience with the Lord Jesus? The structure that the Lord is building is a spiritual structure, it is a spiritual house. The assembly is a spiritual entity; it cannot be taken account of by sight. Persons have buildings and say, ’This is the house of God’, but the structure that the Lord is building is a spiritual one and it requires spiritual persons. So the Lord raises the question here: “Who do men say that I ... am?” So, beloved brethren, what can we say about the Lord Jesus? What can we say as to who He is? ’Well’, you say, ’the scripture says this about Him or that about Him’, and that would be true, but what have you come to yourself?. You might say, ’Well this was a special revelation to Peter’, and it was a special revelation to Peter, but that does not mean that we cannot arrive at something ourselves as to who the Lord is. We have meetings, there is ministry proceeding, and spiritual ministry would bring before us something of Christ, something for us to lay hold of for ourselves. Have I gained anything today as to the greatness of Christ for myself? We have an advantage over Peter. He had this revelation from the Father but as having the Holy Spirit we have the power to obtain things. Mr Raven helped us to see that we get things by the Spirit. We do not exactly get things from the Scriptures; we get things by the Spirit. Then we can go to the Scriptures to get the words to express what we have got. It is possible to get the words without the substance of it. Peter made his confession, “Thou art the Christ the son of the living God”. How delightful that was to the Lord Jesus to hear that, and He says, “flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee but my Father who is in the heavens”. Then He says, “I say unto thee that thou art Peter”. It is not exactly who Peter was, it was what he was. He was a stone for the building and he was a living stone. Then the Lord Jesus says, “and on this rock I will build my assembly”. The rock is not Peter (as some people say); the rock is the revelation that Peter had as to the Son of God. Peter was not the rock, he was a stone for the building, and the Lord says, “and on this rock I will build my assembly”. The Lord is building His assembly and He is looking for material for it, and He says, “and hades’ gates shall no prevail against it”. You might say, ’Well, why has all the ruin come into the church?’ Satan has set up an imitation; the real structure is here and it is impregnable, it is Christ’s building. Am I built into it? I need the Spirit if I am going to be built into it. Whilst every believer belongs to the assembly, I do not think that you could say that every believer is built into it; it needs the sealing of the Holy Spirit. I just raise this, beloved brethren, that we might be exercised about it, that we all might find a vital part in it.
In 1 Peter 2 he is helping the saints into the truth and he is drawing upon the experience he had. There are certain things that we have to lay aside; malice and guile, etc. But then there are things that we are to desire: “the pure mental milk of the word that by it ye might grow up to salvation”. What does it mean “to grow up to salvation”? This cannot be eternal salvation. My own impression of this is that by ’growing up to salvation’ you grow more after the stature of Christ. If Christ was rejected and cast away here, I shall be as well, and that will be salvation for me. But then there is not only salvation in what we are saved from but there is salvation in what we are saved to or for. We are saved to have part in this structure which takes character from Christ. He says, “if indeed ye have tasted that the Lord is good”. Have we all tasted that? How good the Lord is! So we want to keep coming to Him, do we not? “To whom coming” it is not ’have come’ but “To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen”. He is the Man of God’s choice. It was not an arbitrary choice. God has made known the choice of His Man, this Man, because of the moral worth and beauty in Him. And then he says, “Yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”. And then he goes on to speak of this stone as being the cornerstone, it gives character and strength to the building and it is, “elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be put to shame”. Later on he speaks of this stone, “which the builders cast away as worthless, this is become the head of the corner”. It is the Head of the corner, beloved brethren.
Well, I do not think that I should say any more. Do you want to be part of this building? Are you prepared to come under the Lord’s hand and be educated for it? Are you attracted to Him, attached to the Lord Jesus, that you keep coming to Him and take character from Him? Well, may the Lord help us in it. Amen.
12th December 2008