November 25, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Now that we’ve looked at:
• Matthew 16:13 and 14 – what the unsaved world thinks about Jesus,
• Matthew 16:15 and 16 – Peter’s great confession,
• Matthew 16:18 and 19 – the work to which we are called as confessors of Jesus Christ,
• Matthew 16:20 – growing in the knowledge of our Christian faith…
…we are going to consider Matthew 16:21 through 23 – an anomaly in An Overview Of Life. And this anomaly is present too often in the experience of every Christian!
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 again on 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.” But He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mind-
ful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
An anomaly is something that is out of place, that does not seem belong in the scheme of things. What happened to Peter seems out of place considering he just confessed Jesus as “…the Christ, the Son of God…” (Matthew 16:16); and that Jesus pronounced him happy – blessed – because he was the recipient of the Father’s special revelation as well as the privilege of unlocking the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:17 through 19). But just moments later, Peter tried to stand in the way of the Lord’s divine mission, and was rebuked by Jesus as if he was Satan himself!
But what seems anomalous at first is really too often a very common occurrence in the life of a believer. In one moment Peter was openly connected to the mind of God – so much so that what he spoke forth came directly from the Father! But in the next moment he was relying on his own mind and will which, as we see, was in complete opposition to God’s mind and will! The mind and will of a person is best described in ancient Jewish thought as the heart. In Proverbs 23:7 it is written concerning man: “…as…[a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” The Lord confirmed this and expanded on the idea in Matthew 12:34 and 35:
…a tree is known by its fruit….For out of the abundance of the heart the
mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings
forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth
“… out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…,” the hands move, the feet walk, the body follow orders! And according to Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ” So it should be no surprise that Peter – simply regressing back to rely on his own mind and will – would rebuke the Lord by telling Him, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall not happen to You.” After all, Jesus had just told His disciples that within a very few days He would suffer and die at the hands of those who were opposing Him! Peter did not want to lose his beloved Leader! And wasn’t He supposed to defeat the hated Romans and bring in the promised kingdom? So he did the natural thing – he tried to stand in the way of his Master’s defeat! And by standing in the way of the Master, he was doing what the devil wanted – to keep Jesus from the cross and from redeeming mankind!
The natural thing to do – Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:14: “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” And in Romans 8:6 through 8 (Contemporary English Version) Paul tells us:
If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are
ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against
God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws. If we follow our
desires, we cannot please God.
The natural man, operating out of his natural mind and will cannot please God! Only the spiritual man – born again and seeking God’s mind and will – can do that!
This is why it is so crucial to continually pray what Jesus modeled for us in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42: “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (See April 29, 2013 blog – The Most Important Prayer A Christian Can Pray). Only by relying on Jesus at all times can we avoid going from speaking by God’s inspiration one moment to being controlled by Satan the next!