Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Matthew 16:23

Jesus comes to the disciples and asks them a question... "Who do people say that I am?" Honest question. Most of us like to know what other's opinions are of us. What are they thinking? Is it true? Does it illuminate some quality about me that needs to change?

I'm sure for Jesus, he had heard people talking and was curious what the consensus was among the people. A couple of the disciples said... "Some are saying John the Baptist... Some of saying Elijah or Jeremiah or another of the prophets." I'm sure that was insightful information for Jesus.

But then Jesus cuts to the chase... "Who do you think that I am?"

That's a question that we've all got to answer in our lives. Who or what is Jesus Christ? The answer to that question defines a lot of the rest of your life. If Jesus is who he said he is, then another choice is required: Follow him or Don't follow him. Following him requires some lifestyle changes. Not following him shouldn't require any changes but it does put you in an awkward position (What if you're wrong?). But if Jesus isn't who he said he is, then you're kinda back to the postion above where no changes need to be made but you have to wonder what if you're wrong and he really is who he said he is...

But then Peter goes on to say the words that might be more memorable than most in the New Testament. "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Pretty impressive statement there. Jesus goes on to tell Peter that God must have told him this information, not that that's bad or anything.

All of that is the contecty of verse 23. Because Jesus goes on to tell the disciples what's about to happen to him. That he is going to go to Jerusalem, that he's going to suffer many things, that he's going to be arrested. And finally that he's going to be killed and raised from the dead on the third day.

This information didn't jive with what Peter knows about the Messiah. So he tells Jesus that he must have it wrong.

Then Jesus said something to Peter that really jumped out at me today: "Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'" (NIV)

This spawned a few questions in me:
Do I have in mind the things of God or the things of men?
Does Jesus ever feel that I'm in the way of what he's trying to do and would rather that I get behind him?
Am I ever guilty of being in front of God and in the way?
Are there things in my ministry to students that are of men, rather than of God?
How do you know for sure that the things that you are doing are of God and not of men?

Part of what made me think this is that Peter probably thought he was exhibiting good leadership. He knew the direction, or so he thought. But he was wrong. Good intentions and leadership weren't what Jesus was looking for. Rather good listening and following is what he expected.

We look back now at Peter's example and think: "Silly Peter... of course you are wrong and Jesus is right." But we see it from hindsight. We know the rest of the story and how it all turns out. But to be there in Peter's position, I'm not sure that I wouldn't make the same mistake. Part of me wonders if I ever make or are making the same mistake on a day in and day out basis. If Peter could make that mistake and he was standing face to face, toe to toe, eye to eye with God in the flesh and he made that mistake, who's to say that I wouldn't (given I can't see his face, toes or eyes physically).


No answers here... Just questions and thoughts...



  1. With regards to the "get behind me Satan" moment, take a gander at the end of the story of Absalom's revolt in 2 Samuel. Shimei, of the house of Saul, comes to beg David's mercy as David crosses the Jordan. Whie David was on the run from his son, Shimei cursed him for his part in the overthrow of the house of Saul. David forgives him.

    David's nephew (can't remember which one right now) leaps to the attack, telling David he can't say such things, that honor demands revenge. David asks him, "Why are you being an adversary (Heb. satan) to me?"

    I came across that while teaching 2 Samuel at a Bible study about a month ago. Never saw it before, but I have to think that Jesus had that story in mind when he called Peter his adversary (Satan).

  2. Nate,
    Could be... what is the Hebrew word there translated "adversary/Satan"?

  3. It's le-satan in 2 Samuel 19:22--Why have you been to me this day adversary/satan.