In Matthew 16-20 Jesus gives us his plan for building His church. And before you begin any building project there are a few questions you have to get clear on first.
In Matthew 16:13-19, there are three essential questions we need to be absolutely clear on:
1. We have to get clear on what the question is.
2. We have to get clear on whose project this is.
3. We have to get clear on what the confession is.
To help us get clear on these things we will take an imaginative trip to Milan in 387. We will try and imagine what it would have been like to be baptized in the majestic Basilica Nova, at dawn, on Easter morning.
And over the next few weeks we will see how essential a confession of faith is for the house that Jesus is building. Here is one of my favorite confessions from Church history. It comes from the Maasai people, in Eastern Africa:
The Maasai Creed
We believe in the one High God of love who created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe in the world. We have known this God in darkness, and we now know God in the light. God promised in his book the Bible that he would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good on his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man by the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari, doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day he rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry about their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live by the rules of love and share the bread together, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.