Nov. 7,2007; The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher

Focus Text: Matthew 16.20-23

Detractors don’t always wear the uniform of the obvious enemy; frequently they come dressed in the garb of a friend. Jesus’ detractors were sometimes from within His own camp, and sometimes from even the most unexpected sources from within that select group. Today’s message will look at one such detractor (for however brief a period) and how Jesus responded to his comments.

“Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’” (Matthew 16.20-22). Jesus did not just begin to tell His disciples this news; Matthew says that He began to show them to His disciples. Telling is one thing; showing is quite another. Showing involves presenting an idea or fact with substantiating proofs. Talk is cheap, but Jesus was not just talking; He was demonstrating the necessity of His final journey into Jerusalem and His eventual death at the hands of the religious leaders in that great city.

Note again that Jesus demonstrated that He must go; it was not a matter of present choice; He made that choice long ago, even from eternity! There was something much larger at stake than His feelings or for that matter the feelings of His disciples. At issue here was the execution of God’s sovereign plan of redemption which had been laid of old; He was that “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13.8). He understood this mission better than any man who walked on the face of the earth at the time, and well He should, for it had been put in place according to His planning and dictates.

Whatever the motive, I am certain that Peter meant nothing but good when he told Jesus, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But, regardless of motive, Peter’s comments could not stand! From the loving lips of our Lord, came this swift rebuke: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16.23). These were loving lips because they thought more of the spiritual welfare of others than of the physical and emotional welfare of Himself and His disciples. At that moment, whether he knew it or not, Peter was clinging more fervently to the physical side of his relationship with Jesus than he was with the spiritual side of that relationship. For that reason, Jesus told him that his devotion was, at the time, ill-placed; “you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Emotions are powerful motivators, but they are not always right. Sometimes when we follow the advice of our friends and “go with our gut,” we fall prey to the same trap to which Peter fell prey. It is always right to seek God’s counsel and to follow it – regardless of the consequences or what our human preferences might be. Abraham followed that plan; David, but for a few occasions when he failed miserably, followed that plan; Jesus always followed that plan and by so doing, was fit to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1.29).

Questions:

1. What do you think of the motives that were behind Peter’s rebuke of Jesus?

2. Was Jesus harsh in responding to Peter? Was He too harsh? What could have been the ultimate result of Peter’s thinking had Jesus allowed it to stand and hold sway over their actions?

3. Does love sometimes seem to abandon its friends? Does it ever actually abandon them?

4. Are emotions proper motivators in spiritual matters? What limits, if any, does God intend for us to place on our emotions? When we follow our unbridled emotions, what is likely to happen?