A few weeks ago I shared with you my encounter in Israel at the location of Caesarea Philippi. To give you a brief reminder of my experience, I will refer again to the passage in Matt. 16:13-19. When Jesus came to this region with his disciples, he was in a place known as “The Gate of Hell” where pagan worship to false gods occurred. One of the things I loved most about this, was that this was the place Jesus challenged his disciples’ confession and faith. “Who do you say that I am?” (verse 15), he said. As I wrote in my previous post, the power of Simon Peter’s confession and faith unlocked his very identity. It was in his confession of who he believed Jesus was that caused a heavenly reaction from Jesus! Jesus made this declaration of Simon Peter that day:
““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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17-19 ESV)
I want to unpack this revelation a bit further with you today and perhaps open your eyes, as mine were opened, to a new revelation in this passage of scripture. As we know Jesus never does or says anything without purpose or meaning. His declaration was more than mere adoration and praise over Peter that day. In this proclamation, the first thing Jesus did was to bless Peter.
The power of blessing opened the way in this moment for a transformation of identity and exchange of power!
Next, Jesus changed his name to “Peter”, (“Petros” in the Greek, “Cephas” in Hebrew) which means rock. It is no coincidence or side note that the scripture tells us this meaning. It is important not to over-look the meaning of Peter’s name, rock. Rock means a strong and firm foundation. Rocks are also places of refuge in the bible (Ps. 104:18). Thirdly, a rock is a symbol of something that endures. Jesus took a man who had a humble beginning as a fisherman, who stumbled along his way in his attempt to follow Jesus, but Jesus saw his potential. Jesus looked him in the eyes and spoke to Peter’s very soul. He called out his true identity and proclaimed it loudly for all to hear and know!
The third thing Jesus did was proclaim the purpose of Peter’s new identity. “Upon this rock, I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” My last article was on this powerful statement that Jesus made about Peter, so I will not go into the emphasis here again. I just want to re-emphasize in this moment, that our confession of who Jesus is has the power to stop hell in its tracks and give us a new identity and purpose! Don’t let Satan stop you from declaring who God is, your destiny is connected to it!
After Jesus laid the foundation of Blessing, Identity and Purpose, he then released Authority. Reading on in the passage (verse 19), it says, “And I shall give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Furthermore, if you look a few verses later, in Matt. 17:1-7, it says:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”
What I didn’t realize is that these two powerful encounters, both at the “Gates of Hell” and the “Mountain of Transfiguration” are mere miles apart. Jesus not only promised Peter power and authority over Hell but also released to him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Six days later he took Peter and his two brothers with him on the mountain and gave them a glimpse of the very reality of what this access looked like!
I feel like I have looked over this glimpse into heaven in this powerful passage of scripture. I focused so much on our ability to cast out demons, close the mouth of the enemy, rebuke the devils schemes…that I lost sight of the beauty of Heaven. Living with eternity before us unlocks an amazing authority. We are heavenly beings and inside of us we hold the key to unlocking heaven here on earth. We cannot do this apart from Jesus! Many have tried and failed. Jesus is our key! Heaven is a place that we can encounter and kingdom authority is unlocked if we dare to allow him to transform us through the power of blessing, identity and purpose.
Jesus, I pray today that you will help set us free from old identities. Let us lay aside anything of this world that seeks to define us. Let us be changed and transformed into our true name; the one you declare over us. God, let the keys inside of us be uncovered! Let us have eyes to see the glory that we have access to, and that you so desperately want to show us. Transform us, Lord!