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Firm Foundation Pastor Bodden 9-6-2020

Matthew 16:13-20

The grace of the (our) Lord Jesus be with you. Amen.

Let’s say that you were planning to build a structure. I’m not talking about a tent that’s only going to be up for a weekend, but something you want to last. A bridge? A skyscraper? A house? Let’s go with house. In fact, let’s pretend that you are planning to build your brand new home that you want to last for a very long time. We’re going to want to use the very best materials we can afford, right? I mean, what good is it if we get down building it, move in, and then realize that it’s already falling to pieces? But before we can pick out the paint color of the bedrooms, before we can put in the windows, or put the backsplash on in the kitchen, we should probably make sure the foundation is good. After all, even if you have the best built walls and well reinforced roof, if the foundation crumbles then the whole building is in trouble. (IMAGES) So the question is, how do we know if we have a firm and solid foundation? Now of course I’m talking about our spiritual foundation.

The sad thing is, so many people of this world, the vast majority of them are building on foundations that crumble and fall. But it’s because they are putting their hope in all the wrong places. It’s not in Jesus. They run around trying to build a life for themselves based on fun, and experiences, and wealth, and stuff. They think that if they can get enough, earn enough, do enough then they will be fulfilled. But they don’t realize that they are building on a bad foundation. Those things can’t support them. They’ll just be let down and wanting more. What they really need is Jesus. But they don’t see him as a savior. For most people Jesus is just another good teacher. Someone who had a lot of good things to say and we should listen to some of his teachings. The ones that they like and that they approve of. Others say that Jesus is one way to heaven. But just one of many. He’s good, but the world doesn’t want to limit itself. Whenever I hear unbelievers try to claim that there is many ways to be saved it always reminds me of a scene from the movie The Mummy. The 1999 version. There is a scene where a weaselly and very unlikeable character named Beni finds himself facing off against this mummy who wants to kill him. He grabs for a cross that is hanging around his neck and tries to pray. That’s not working so he grabs for another necklace and it happens to be an image of a buddha. That doesn’t work so he grabs for another, some Hindu god. Beni was trying to cover all of his bases. It’s supposed to be a funny scene, but it really shows where the people of this world put their faith. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. They are missing out on the one and only foundation they need. And still others claim that Jesus is a fraud. That he never existed. They accuse Christians of changing what the Bible says and refuse to listen to what God tells us. It’s sad that so many people are missing out on the very thing they need and instead try to build on the things of this world. But what happens when the economy turns south? What happens when friends suddenly aren’t so friendly anymore? What happens when it seems the whole world is upside down and spinning the wrong way? What happens when safety and security are questionable just because I disagree with what someone else believes? We see it all around us right now: when people build on anything else than on Jesus, their hope is going to crumble and fall.

But what about us? Where do we put our hope? Now obviously we know the answer to that: it’s Jesus. We know that ultimately this world is going to be destroyed, but that we have been saved by Christ. But we are constantly tempted to find peace in other places. The same places as the world. To find peace in the security of a good job, a nice house, and good friends. To find comfort in entertainment. So often in times of worry we run to these other things instead of clinging to the Rock. We make time for comfort food, and movies, and Facebook. We talk with our friends and spend time in our hobbies. And these things are all wonderful things. Blessings from God. But do we always make sure we are leaving time for the things that really matter? Do we always prioritize our time in God’s Word and in prayer? Even as Christians we feel this constant pull from earthly desires, our sinful nature, and the priorities of the world. We know better. We know that these things can’t be trusted. And yet we struggle. Jesus asks us “Who do you say I am?” The answer is obvious. But then why are we tempted to put other things in front of God?

The great thing is that even if we get distracted by the inferior things of this world, the One that our faith is planted on is always strong. When Jesus asked his disciples who the crowds thought he was, the disciples knew. They had been traveling with him and heard the people talking. The crowds think that Jesus is maybe John the Baptist, or maybe Elijah. Others think that maybe God sent down one of the prophets. But that’s not right. That’s not even close to who Jesus is. So Jesus says to them: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) I love Peter’s response. “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”” (Matthew 16:16) Peter knows! He knows who his faith is built on! It has nothing to do with the things of this world, the hopes of this world. Those are just going to disappoint. Peter understands that his hope is someone so much bigger and greater than this world: Jesus. The eternal God. The son of the living God. The Savior of the world. The one promised from the very beginning. The one who alone can pay for our sins, and has paid for our sins. All of our sins. Wow. Peter must be really smart to know this. What an amazing man! Peter’s words are amazing. But it isn’t about Peter, it’s about the one who revealed it to him. Jesus said to him “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, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17-19) Jesus isn’t saying that Peter is the foundation of all that the Christian church. Instead the foundation of all the teachings of the Bible are found in Peter’s testimony: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15)

We don’t need any other foundation! We shouldn’t have any other foundation. This is all that we need. That while the world builds their hope on dollar signs and running around trying to enjoy as much of the world as they can while they can, we know that their hopes will fail. Enough will never be enough for them. But for all who know that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, we know that our hope isn’t found in this world, but on God alone. On his eternal promises. On his assurance that he has forgiven all sins and has taken away the threats of death, the devil, and sin. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” (Romans 11:33-35) What have we done to earn God’s love? What have we given to him? Nothing. But our faith is set firmly down on the promises of God. That he has given us everything. That in him we have wisdom and knowledge. Because he is our firm foundation that will never disappoint and will never let us fall. And he continues to grow us in our faith through his Word, so that when troubles come our way, we will not be shaken or worried.

Because problems will come. The things of this world will be lost, destroyed, or taken away. But we won’t be shaken. Our confidence isn’t based on our strength or our intelligence. It’s based on the same thing that Peter knew and trusted in: “You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God.” That’s the only firm foundation that we need! When the world tries to steal us away from the truth, God holds us firm. When false teachers tempt us with hollow and false teachings, God gives us his Word to keep us safe. When Satan beats against this rock, God doesn’t move. We cannot be shaken because the faith that our God has worked in our hearts is planted firmly on the foundation of Jesus as our Lord and Savior from all sin. So let us build only on Jesus promises. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. Amen.

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