As reported by Matthew, Jesus words in response to Peter’s confession of faith evoke a view of creation with the heavens above and hell beneath and the earth inbetween.
And Peter’s confession of faith is of cosmic significance – it is a recognition, a reconnection with the Lord of all. It marks a gear change in the relationship between humanity and the Creator, a fresh respnse to the gear-change that was the Incarnation.
God chose to be with us in Christ, and now for the first time in his adult life those gathered around him, his disciples, begin to acknowledge this truth.
They have a long way to go yet, in their entering into the fullness of communion with him. The Lectionary omits the sharp words between Jesus and Peter which follow shortly after this more eirenic exchange. But something new is established here which will flourish into profound and sacrificial discipleship in Peter and his fellows.
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
16.13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered him, “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.”