Greetings MOL Family!
Would you want to meet Peter, someday? We will soon, if we are faithful. Is he going to be there? Thank God, his name is in one of those twelve foundations of the Holy City…
The Work of the Messiah
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? – Matthew 16:13-15
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock. – Matthew 16:16-18
(The rock of your confession – the fact that I am the Messiah.)
…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16:18-19
It’s a wonderful scene, isn’t it? With the twelve disciples around Him, He draws out the fact that Israel has not accepted Jesus as the Messiah. At best, they’ve said He’s a miracle worker, He’s a prophet. But among the twelve, thank God, the light had dawned, the knowledge had come, the conviction had deepened that this was indeed, as Peter had expressed it, the advent of the Messiah. Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
So Christ acknowledges their acknowledgment, and proceeds to announce the building of His church upon this great truth. Yet in the 20th verse, He had to tell the disciples not to preach to the multitudes at that time that He was the Messiah.
They wouldn’t understand. Now in the 21st verse:
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. – Matthew 16:21
This is all in the same interview. He begins to tell His disciples what? That He has to go to Jerusalem and suffer. Notice those three words in the third line; “He must go,” And the two words in the next line; “and suffer”. Let’s put those five words together. “He must go, and suffer.” Jesus, having accepted their acknowledgment that He’s the Messiah, proceeds with the unfolding of the work of the Messiah.
Isaiah had presented the Messiah as the suffering servant, the One who was to make atonement through His death. But to the Jews of Christ’s day, this was an unknown and unwanted truth. They were looking upon the Messiah as the One who would deliver them from the Romans, make Israel the head of the kingdoms, and give the Israelites the rule of this world.
So having accepted the fact that He was the Messiah, having accepted their acknowledgment of this, Jesus must lead them into an understanding of the Messiah’s work. “He must go and suffer.” The Lamb had appeared. He must go to the altar. The sins must be put upon Him. He must suffer. He must bleed. He must die.
He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. – Matthew 16:21
Now, Peter responds. Just as he’d responded to the first part of the interview, he leads right out in the second part. What does he say?
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. – Matthew 16:22
Think of it! The disciples talking to his Master, the student reproving his Teacher. But, this is Peter.
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke Him saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. – Matthew 16:22
But Jesus did not say to him, as He had said a few moments before, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona.” Oh, no. A few moments before the Holy Spirit had been talking to Peter and through Peter. Who is talking now? satan. And the proof is the next verse:
He [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. – Matthew 16:23
Notice the contrast. In the preceding interchange of words Peter has expressed faith.
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. – Matthew 16:16
Jesus has said:
Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 16:17
“Peter, God is speaking through you now, not men.” But now He has to say to Peter, “satan’s talking.” Is it possible for a man to speak for God one hour, and the devil the next hour, even before the hour is over? Apparently, it is. It was with Peter. We need to learn that lesson, and we need to learn it both ways. Just because a man says something for God is no sign that we should accept everything he says after that. Oh, no. Even five minutes later. Everything must be tested.
So God, through Jesus, said, “Peter, you’ve missed it. Another master has gotten hold of you. Another voice is speaking. Another mind is controlling yours.” And speaking directly to that unseen one who was controlling Peter, Jesus said, “Get thee behind me satan. These things that are coming from Peter’s lips didn’t come from God. They came from you, satan. Get away. Get out of here.”
Now, let us see what Peter was trying to get Jesus to do. Notice that twenty-second verse again:
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. – Matthew 16:22
If your Bible has a margin, look at the margin there on “be it far from thee, Lord.” What is it? “Pity Thyself.” “Why, Lord. Surely, You wouldn’t let this happen to You. Take care of Yourself, Lord. If they’re going to treat You like that up at Jerusalem, don’t go up there. Pity Thyself.”
There were several reasons Peter said this. In the first place, he loved his Lord, as he had expressed it before and after that. In the second place, he loved Peter. And Peter, as we have seen, all the way through wanted to be where? Close to Jesus. And if Jesus was going to get hurt, then it might not be so comfortable for Peter, you understand.
So he said, “Lord, don’t go into trouble. You don’t want trouble for Yourself, and we don’t want trouble. Keep out of trouble. Keep out of suffering. Keep out of persecution. Keep out. Pity Thyself, Lord. This shall not be unto Thee.” But Jesus, of course, reproved him.
Let’s go on, because Christ didn’t stop. He didn’t soften things down. He didn’t tone things down.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. – Matthew 16:24
He says, “You are feeling bad because I’m going to the cross. But I have to tell you, there’s a cross for you as well as for Me. And to travel in My company means that as I must go and carry My cross and be crucified, so you must come and take up your cross, and carry it, and be crucified.”
“Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.”
Throughout this new civil year, we must learn from the example of Christ! Follow His steps, by taking up the cross!
Until next week – Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
When we understand God’s great plan of redemption, to save humanity from this world of sin, we will seek to be yoked in faithful service, together with Him!
Discover more about Christ’s work, and how you may enter into this experience – in a practical way! While supplies last, take advantage of January’s Combination Special: “The Sanctuary Made Practical” (Book & CD series) >> Learn More
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.