GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus
Previously, Jesus had in veiled speech spoken of His death (Matt 9:15) and even his death and resurrection (Matt 12:39-40, 16:4). Now in plain, non-veiled language, the plan of God is revealed in His Son, who as the merciful High Priest, will “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This will include the evil human agency of the enemies of Christ, agents who will carry out this plan, and who will be held responsible for their actions.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21.
1. The Plan of God in Christ. The suffering and death of Christ, predicted as far back as the garden of Eden, in the conflict between Satan, the serpent, and the generations of Adam and Eve, to and through the promises to Abraham and Israel, the suffering predicted by the prophets, the prophetic work of redemption through the Messiah – all come to a head through Jesus and in this time in history. Without equivocation, Jesus now unveils this message. He must be killed and ,on the third day, be raised to life.2. All Objections to this Plan of Redemption Are Exposed. Peter is certainly a study in contrasts. He affirms and confesses who Jesus is: You are the Christ, the son of the Living God ((Matt 16:16), and yet now has not put together the full plan: Never, Lord, these things will never happen to you (Matt 16:22). This shows how the disciples remained in the Old Testament motif, God sending the Messiah to drive out the enemies of Israel, and restore the nation to its glory. Peter had half the picture, and the remaining time with Jesus will complete this instruction to him and the disciples.
3. Distinguishing God’s Plan from Man’s Plan. At its heart, this is earthly-minded not heavenly-minded. Jesus instructs Peter:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Do you see the level of opposition to Jesus? It came not only from the plotting religious leaders around him, the Roman government poised to maintain control, but also the false narratives as they came through his disciples, as from Satan himself. Again, no equivocation. The message is clear and unbroken – Jesus, buried and risen!
This text is a narrative of caution. It says twofold: the message of the redemption of God in Jesus cannot be changed or watered down. It is, at its heart, the cross and the tomb. That is what would drive the early church, but it is also a word of caution about good starts as a disciple that can be sidetracked. Peter has to be stopped in his tracks when he opposes this redemption narrative. To those of us who embrace the gospel message, it means keep on keeping on. We can be an agent for good and for God and his Kingdom, or we can be sidetracked into a plan that opposes the work of God.
That is the message of next week: How salvation is inextricably tied to discipleship. This passage will end with a warning to the disciples. Next week! Stay well.
— John MooreP