St. Peter and St. Paul were called to be apostles of God to Christ’s Church on earth. Our devotion today focuses on the Gospel for the Festival of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles. The reading is excerpted from Peter: Life and Letters.
Acts 15:1–12 (13–21)
Read the propers for the day on Lutheran Service Builder.
To Caesarea Philippi came Jesus and He asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
“Some say that Thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias or one of the prophets.”
“But ye, whom say ye that I am?”
Humanly speaking, did His heart stand still while awaiting the answer?
Simon Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
That is the great creed of Peter and of all the disciples, for whom he was spokesman; and it is the great creed of all Christendom from the first to the sixteenth century and to the twentieth century and to the last century.
Surely there was a ring of joy in Christ’s answer: “Blessed art thou, Bar Jona [son of John]; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”
That creed does not come from “flesh and blood,” from human insight of wisdom; that creed is revealed in the heart of man by God Himself through the Gospel. “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
“I say unto thee, That thou art Peter [Stone], and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Christ builds the Church, and so He calls it “My Church”—the first time He used the word. Christ builds His Church of the “lively stones” of souls having a living faith in Christ as their Savior. Christ builds the Church upon “this rock.” Which rock? Christ. Christ is the Builder of the Church, and Christ is the Rock on which it is built, just as He is Priest and also the Sacrifice, just as the believers are the lively stones built into the temple and also the priests in the temple.
“The Stone which the builders refused is become the Headstone of the corner.” Prophecy became history. Not long after the word of Christ to Peter, Peter himself said Christ is that Stone. Again, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation.” Who is this stone?
Peter says Christ Himself is this “Living Stone,” upon which the believers, “as lively stones,” are built up. St. Paul calls Christ Himself “the chief Corner-stone” and the only “Foundation” that is laid. “Who is a rock save our God?” “That Rock was Christ.”
The believers are built on Peter, as they “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” because they preached Christ Himself as the chief Corner-stone.
Devotional reading is adapted from Peter: Life and Letters, pages 40–41 © 1930 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Hymn is “Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head” from Soli Deo Gloria: Eight Distinctive Chorale Preludes for Every Organist, Set 5 © 2019 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.