13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Yalkut Shimoni 766Midrash
A parable: Once there was a king who sought to build a palace. He began to dig, going further down, to lay a foundation, but he found only swampy soil. And so it was in many places. He was not able to build until he dug in one place, and there he found a bed of rock. Thus he said, “I am building and placing foundations here,” and he built. So too, the Holy One, blessed be He, sought to create the world. He was sitting and scrutinizing the generation of Enosh and the generation of the flood, and He said, “For what shall I create the world and let those wicked men arise and vex me?” But when the Holy One, blessed be He, saw Abraham arise in the future, he said, “Behold, I have found the rock (petra) to build upon and to lay the foundation of the world.” Thus he called Abraham “Rock,” as it says in Isaiah, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn,” and he called Israel “rocks.”
Notes and References
"... An anonymous interpreter, commenting on Numbers 23:9, 'I see him from the top of the rocks,' described the dilemma that God confronted when he wished to create the world ... Yalkut Shim'oni is a very late (13th century A.D.) collection of midrash; however, it contains much early material. Some scholars might argue that this rabbinic source can tell us nothing about what a first-century Jewish sage may have said. Yet the similarity between Jesus' declaration and the above midrash is too great to be coincidental. It seems likely that Jesus alluded to a tradition with which his disciples were familiar, the tradition that God built the world on the sure foundation of a dependable man ..."
Biven, David Matthew 16:18: The Petros-petra Wordplay - Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? (pp. 32-35) Jerusalem Perspective, No. 46-47, 1994