From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Matthew 16:21-28 NLT
My Thoughts: I just love Peter, don’t you? Sometimes I find myself acting just like him; I speak when I should be silent, or I pronounce judgement when I have no idea what I’m talking about! In our last lesson Peter had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, but here he attempts to protect Jesus from suffering by denying what Jesus says will happen.
Jesus rebukes Peter immediately and says something harsh:
“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Were you as stunned to hear those words from Jesus as I was? I find myself in Peter’s shoes confused and dismayed. Why were those words of kindness rejected by Jesus as if he believed it were Satan himself talking?
My study Bible tells me that we are to be cautious of advice from a friend whose only goal may be to encourage or protect us from discomfort. The temptation might be to walk away from a situation God had called us to do, especially if we think it might be unpleasant.
Also, we know in this world we will have suffering because we are warned by Jesus himself!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
Peter was only considering the words Jesus spoke from a human perspective which left God out of the picture. That was why Jesus rebuked the words that Peter spoke.
Satan is so conniving and cunning!
As slippery as the slope of sin is for us, it’s encouraging to know that Jesus loved Peter so much he eventually used him in a mighty way despite his failures. That gives me hope I will be used for the Kingdom too! I am aware of how easily I can be deceived if I am not spending time with the Lord and praying. My prayer right this moment is that we all remember when we read the Bible, we are putting on an armor of protection to open our eyes and heart to the wily ways of Satan!
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
(To read more about the Armor of God read Ephesians 6:10-18)
Jesus then speaks very plainly to his disciples when he tells them if you want to follow me you will have to give up your own ways and follow mine, which included carrying a cross. When Jesus used this illustration, the disciples knew exactly what he was saying because crucifixion was a common method of execution for the Romans. A condemned criminal had to carry their own cross through the streets to the execution site.
If. Such a big word with only two letters! Even now, with the disciple’s commitment to give up their livelihood and their families, Jesus gives them another difficult choice to make: are you committed enough to follow me even though it will surely include persecution and possibly even death?
We have had some tough questions thrown at us from Jesus in our last few lessons: (1) will we believe in him even if we never witness a miracle of amazing proportions, (2) who do we believe Jesus is, and now (3) are we committed enough to Jesus to follow him even though it will not be easy?
My study Bible says this about a true commitment to Jesus:
“Real discipleship implies real commitment—pledging our whole existence to his service. When we give our lives in service to Christ, we discover the real purpose of living.”
The day came when I knew that my life no longer belonged just to me, it belonged fully and completely to Christ. Immediately my commitment improved some relationships in my life and others became more difficult. As much as that breaks my heart, I will not back down from my decision to follow Christ in true commitment. Do I stumble? Oh, yes, I do. But I pick myself up, I dust off the remnants and pain of sin—with the full forgiveness of Christ—and I get right back on the path again.
Have you made a commitment to Christ too? Then what ‘say ye’ about this new question of commitment? Are you willing to go all the way with Jesus even though it means you are accepting a life of hardship and potentially even death?
Here is a big reality if you find yourself waffling about making this decision: see John 16:33 from above! You will have troubles anyway! You will die eventually (the current statistics are one out of one human’s die!) so whose side will you be on when you face troubles and death?
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 NIV
Closing Prayer: Father God, this post may seem harsh to the eyes of some and I pray if this happens you do a mighty work in their hearts. Father I recommit my heart and my life to you this day and I pray that I am not only an obedient servant but a mighty warrior for the Kingdom. Open my eyes to the wiles of the evil one so that I do not fall into temptation and turn from the path that you have called me to live for you. I pray for those I love, Father, to surrender their hearts and lives to you and walk with you in eternal life and victory. This is my hearts cry forever more. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.