The question was asked, what did Jesus mean when He said ‘this rock’? Is He referring to Peter, or Himself, based on Peter’s confession, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16)?
For me, the answer is not either/or, but both/and. We know that in calling Peter a ‘rock’, Jesus was using a play on words, in essence saying, Simon, whose name means 'stone', will be more than just a pebble; that He will be a rock, that in part, forms the foundation of the Church. There is no doubt that Peter was given a critical leadership role in establishing the early church -- just read the opening chapters of the Book of Acts.
In writing to the believers in Ephesus, Paul would speak of the church as being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets… (Ephesians 2:20). That foundation is their message. The church is built on the Word of God, given through men, like Peter. God has always used men/ women to declare His message, to advance His purposes. We have to see the connection between the message and the messengers. But Paul would go on to add, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). In Ephesians 5:23, he would say, Christ is the head of the church (5:23 - NIRV).
So, yes, the church is built on the One, Peter declared to be the Christ, who is the Head of the Church. And yes, Peter did have a key leadership role within the Early Church. There is a place for spiritual leadership within the ‘capital ‘C’ church and local church. We are called to recognize and honor our spiritual leaders, to pray for them as they, as fallen, fallible human beings seek to do the work of the Lord. But we have to be careful not to elevate Peter, or any other human to a position they were never intended to hold. Christ alone is the Head of the Church.
I hope this gives us a balanced, Biblical perspective on this matter.
Thank you for being a people who are attentive and engaged as we teach the truth of God’s Word here at Valley.