Matthew 16:13 “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’” Peter responded to this by saying: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (vs. 18)
What rock is Jesus talking about here that the church will be built on? On the ‘man’ Peter, or on the ‘statement of faith’ Peter made about Jesus? I believe that it is the latter. We know from Scripture that the 12 apostles are the foundation, but Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone that everything hinges on.
Jesus shared with His disciples about what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem: persecution, beatings, mockings and eventually death on the cross. What to me is interesting, is Peter’s rebuke to Jesus: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (vs.23) And Jesus’ response: “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.”
We are at a cross-roads here with what Jesus said: “You do not have in mind the things of God.” I think that this is interesting, because Peter seemed to be running on his emotions and not with the goal or purpose of God. How many times do we do the same by mistaking emotion for the reality of what God’s will and purpose is? Yes Peter had a concern for Jesus and did not want Him to suffer, but that was Peter’s emotion and not the Father’s will. How many times do we see things taking place in the world (suffering, wars, etc.) and do not fully understand all that God is doing. We are moved by emotions to act and find that we are moving in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. It is not that emotion is bad, but it cannot lead or direct us. It is the will of God that should motivate and lead us.
Paul said: “Christ’s love compels us.”(2 Corinthians 5:14) What does this mean in the context of being compelled by emotion? Love here is more than an emotion, it is an act of my will. Jesus said: “If you love me you will obey and carry out my plans and purpose.” There are many bad things happening in the world where our emotions can begin to compel us, but we need to make sure that we are moving and acting within God’s plan and purpose.
This emotion that Peter was exhibiting here, could be put in another way when he said to Jesus, “Jesus, pity yourself!” Peter meant, “Why should you have to suffer, be persecuted and be hung on the cross like a criminal?” Jesus responded to Peter, and to us who have bought into the self-pity thinking and activity, by showing us the true way to think and to go, as He did. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
This is the cross-road that we are faced with: pity ourselves or deny ourselves. Which do we choose? We are told that one of the main reasons for depression is an attitude of self-pity: “poor me, pity me,” etc. Test this to see if it’s true or not; start feeling sorry for yourself and see what happens.
Do not choose the road of emotions, to pity yourself, rather choose the better road that I believe is God’s road – His purpose and will to deny yourself. This is where we learn to die to ourselves – our will and purpose – and learn to follow Him who laid aside His own glory, riches, etc. to die in our place so that we might live with Him forever. Yes, it might sound hard when we speak about dying to our own desires and ambitions, which is what it means to take up our cross to follow Christ, but we will find that this is the only way of great satisfaction and enjoyment.
In verse 25 Jesus said: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” One thing that Jesus promised us is true abundant life. This abundant life is found in denying ourselves and following Christ. We will find that Christ will lead us to do the work that He has ordained for us, and in doing brings joy and a sense of completeness in our lives.
Jesus also brought out something that I think is very important, that we have only so much time here on earth before we enter eternity. In verse 26 He says, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” How are we going to use our time that we have here on earth? Following our own emotional path or following the path of Jesus Christ? How true is the saying: “Only what is done for Christ will last.”
Jesus said I go and prepare a place for you and I WILL RETURN. In verse 27 Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” When He appears, there is only one place that I want to be, in His Kingdom because I obeyed and followed Him. Amen?