PASSAGE: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).
COMMENT: At this point in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus and his closest disciples are taking a brief break, staying in the city of Caesarea Philippi after the early success of his teachings and demonstrations. In answer to his question, the disciples report to Jesus that the people are saying he is either the reincarnation of John the Baptist or of one of the great Hebrew prophets. "But who do you say that I am?" Jesus asks, and Simon replies "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It is at this point that Jesus sees in this particular disciple the metaphysical quality that will define him from that point forward—the quality of faith. It is only through faith that he could know Jesus as the Christ. "Flesh and blood"—that is, the input from intelligence and senses that constitutes most of what we think we know—could not reach that awareness. And so Jesus renames Simon, evoking a play on words as he does so. In Aramaic the word "kepha" can mean both “stone” and the name “Peter.” So Jesus is saying that faith is the stone upon which his community will be built—not intellect, not tradition—and as Simon has expressed that quality, he is renamed “Stone” to emblemize the faith he truly represents. The result of that faith—that awareness of the Christ, not just in Jesus but as a universal spiritual truth—is that our choices become expressive of the creative Power of God.
It is true for us today as well, of course: We cannot come to a full understanding and acceptance of our own Christ Nature—or of the Christ Presence in others—simply through logic and sensation. We intuitively “know” it from within; and we must then have faith in that intuitive knowing. We then become part of an assemblage of people who are, indeed “called out” to claim, share and express our innate Christ energy and thereby create a new consciousness, which Jesus describes as “the kingdom of heaven.” This point is so essential to understanding the ministry and message of Jesus that he returns to it two chapters later, in the other statement about which you asked.
PASSAGE: "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven" (Matthew 18:18-19).
COMMENT: "Earth" is the world of illusion in which we live. "Heaven" is the realm of consciousness in which we are eternally One with Spirit. Jesus is teaching us here—as he does throughout his ministry—that our life experience will express according to our faith. We "bind on earth" when we decide what we believe about this life experience—and that belief will become our full experience. If we believe in a dangerous world, we will experience a dangerous world. If we believe in an enemy trying to do us harm, that will be our experience. If, on the other hand, we "loose" ourselves from those negative beliefs and hold to the truth that there is One Presence and One Power, seeking always to express in and through us as our highest, greatest Good, that will be the life we experience. God—the Father in heaven, the Source of all that is—will express in our lives according to the beliefs we hold.