November 23, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We’ve looked at three different major things concerning An Overview Of Life:
• Matthew 16:13 and 14 – What the unsaved world thinks about Jesus. “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” In other words, at best he was a great man, a teacher, an example, even one who was such an idealist that he was willing to die for his ideals. Notice I did not capitalize the pronouns identifying Jesus, because the world does not look at Him as God come in the flesh!
• Matthew 16:15 and 16 – Peter’s great confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A similar confession is the start of every Christian life! As Paul wrote in Romans 10:9, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
• Matthew 16:18 and 19 – Jesus laid out for His followers the work to which we are called as confessors of Jesus Christ! It is this: we are called to build the Church by His direction! We do that by proclaiming the gospel. And the gospel is “…the keys of the kingdom of heaven…,” unlocking forgiveness and eternal life for all who believe!
But we are not just to proceed in building the church, that is, bringing people to the Lord as our only Christian activity. We are told in II Peter 3:18, “…grow in the grace, and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And growing in knowledge is what Jesus is addressing in Matthew 16:19:
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 the third day.
You see, the disciples held a common misconception about the Messiah’s mission that most Jews had. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of God’s chosen and sent One who will lead Israel out of being subjected to cruel overlords, and into military and political dominance that will be a great blessing to everyone on earth! (See Psalm 2:6-12; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-16; Zechariah 9:9, 10). Too often the disciples’ chief concern was “Who…is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? ” (Matthew 18:1 – see also Mark 9:33, 34; Luke 9:46). Consider how joyfully they joined in with the general crowd at the Triumphal Entry – Luke 19:37 and 38:
…the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with
a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the
King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in
the highest!” (See also Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-19).
Even at the very end of Jesus’ earthly ministry – just before He ascended to heaven – their question was, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? ” (Acts 1:6).
In our Scripture of Matthew 16:21, Jesus was correcting His disciples’ flawed understanding of prophecy. They had to learn of the suffering Messiah, not just the glorious King! He was teaching them that through His passion and death, they would be prepared from the inside out – their sins forgiven and God’s righteousness implanted! If they wanted to be part of the kingdom of heaven, they had to be made fit for the kingdom by God’s sacrifice of His own Son!
These truths are basics of the gospel – “…the keys of the kingdom of heaven….” And their increasing understanding of that gospel would help them to better share it with sinners who needed it so desperately!
Yes, even the brand new believer – the baby Christian – can share the good news with others. There is the story of the young man who was gloriously saved just the night before at a revival meeting. That next afternoon, there he was in his college dorm common room, standing on a table with a crowd of his friends around him. And he was preaching up a storm! “You should have been there and seen Noah leading the Israelites two by two out of Egypt and into the ark!”
It says in Ephesians 4:11 through 15 (English Standard Version), Jesus…
…gave…apostles…prophets…evangelists…shepherds and teachers, to
equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of
Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature
of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed
to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by
human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking
the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the
Head, into Christ….
Confessing that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God…,” is just the start. Then we are to study, to learn, and to grow up into Christ. Then we can better share the gospel with others!