Armenia was the world’s first Christian nation and dates back to the time of Christ and before. Bartholomew, who was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, went to Armenia after Christ’s Resurrection and founded the Armenian church there. Tradition also suggests that he was flayed alive in Armenia for his beliefs.
Armenia is buffered between the Byzantine/Turkish, Russian/USSR and Persian empires. Today it is largely Christian (94%), which is unusual for this part of the world, and we can definitely thank Bartholomew’s unrelenting faith for that. The Armenian Apostolic Church has long been a cultural refuge in times of persecution, but they are also deep in tradition which sometimes can get in the way of seeing the living Christ of today. Pray for this amazing church and country that they will continue the work of Jesus and His disciples and be a safe haven for all who seek the truth.
Who is Jesus? Who is the Messiah? Who or what is the Rock?
This small passage in the book of Matthew reveals a lot and questions a lot.
~ Peter and The Messiah Matthew 13:16-19 ~
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
“Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.”
Even today, some people call Jesus a prophet. During Jesus’ time, people knew he was more than an ordinary prophet and thought he must be one of the great prophets who had come back to life. How else could they explain Jesus? But Jesus did not answer the disciples by saying he was a prophet.
Whether you believe Jesus as the Messiah or not is up to you, but the one thing Jesus never is – just a prophet. That is a weak compromise which means nothing to any faith. Either Jesus is who he said he was, validated by Peter as revealed to him through God and witnessed by all the disciples, or, Jesus was just a very good man. There is no in between and no reason for it. Jesus as just a prophet means nothing to the Jews. Jesus as a prophet means nothing to the religion of Islam because only Mohammed matters in their faith. Jesus as a prophet to other non-Christians means no more than any other teacher or philosopher. And prophets die. None of these ideas of a prophet will make a difference in your eternal fate.
Jesus also said Peter was the rock on which he would build his church. Catholics take this to mean that Peter was to be the leader (first pope) of the one church. I’m not sure about the titles, but Peter was certainly blessed and had a very special purpose in bringing the message of Christ to the rest of the world. What is most important to remember is that Peter had a great faith and he acted on it! And because of that, Jesus’ church and family now includes all those who follow Jesus as the Messiah, their Savior. The church is not a building or a denomination or even following a certain preacher, but a faith built on the cornerstone rock of Jesus Christ.
They had been out all night and caught nothing. They were hungry, tired, and smelled of ocean. The early morning chill still hung in the air. The cold could be added to their list of grievances too, but mostly they were hungry.
As they pulled their boat up on the shore, their muscles sore and aching, they could smell the faint aroma of fresh fish cooking. They looked around, and as the fog began to clear, they saw in the distance a glowing fire with several fish laying on top. They could faintly hear the crackling of the fire in the morning stillness, perhaps with a little olive oil drizzled on top as the sweet aroma drifted their way. They looked at each other, quickly dropped their fishing gear, and ran toward the site. There was freshly baked bread too, warming next to the fire. Who would leave this here? Who prepared such a thing?
And then they saw him, leaning over the fire stirring the coals. He smiled at them, and said, “Come, eat!” It was their Lord. The disciples: Peter, James, and John, were still a little confused and shocked over the recent events of the previous days: Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and then raised back to life three days later. Their world had been torn upside down.
They sat down on the beach and ate the fish and bread until they were full. After having been warmed by the fire, they got up and went for a walk. Peter and Jesus went on ahead, John lagged behind a little. Jesus had some very specific words for Peter as they talked, as well as telling him how he would eventually die. “What about him?” Peter asked frantically as he pointed back toward John, Jesus’ beloved disciple. “That is not your concern,” Jesus answered…
I cannot imagine a better scene on earth than having a morning meal of fresh fish and baked bread sitting with Jesus on the beach, in the quiet dawn of the day as the sun begins to rise. What a great mental picture of Jesus. This story comes from the last chapter of the Gospel of John, as recorded by John, the one who was lagging behind on the beach. The full story is in John chapter 21. Below is an excerpt of the specific words that Jesus had for Peter that morning.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”