Trusting God for the bigger picture is not easy. It’s what got us messed up in the beginning. It still messes us up!
2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Seeing Jesus from a Jewish perspective is not easy for us Gentiles. Let’s look at a Matthew 16:21-28 this morning; it will help us understand what Jesus was doing.
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.
Jesus knew what was going to happen. In fact, the cross was why He came to earth. He tells us as much:
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” John 12:27-28
Get this: Peter rebuked Jesus! I can just see it using the characters on “The Chosen.”
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
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.”
Peter was just being protective–but then, he may have still had in mind Christ setting up a physical kingdom. It’s all he knew. In fact, there is much that was hidden that the Lord was doing to keep it from the enemy (see Luke 9:45 and 1 Corinthians 2:8). Jesus was not saying that Peter was Satan or that he was being controlled by Satan. He was saying that Peter had his own agenda in mind rather than the Lord’s, which was like Satan.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 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 they have done.
Jesus mentioned the cross for the first time. Everyone knew what a cross meant: DEATH. A gruesome one, at that. I suspect that they were taken aback by such strong language. It’s not just a one-time decision, either. We must make it every day. Luke actually adds the word, “daily,” to the passage (Luke 9:23).
28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
To know what Jesus is talking about here, we must look at what happens next, which is the Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him to the top of a mountain. Jesus was transfigured there back into His heavenly form. God came and enveloped them and spoke about His Son. Peter, James and John tasted heaven. What do you think this experience did for them when they faced prison, exile, being boiled in oil, and death? I personally think that they were excited to get to go back! Paul, who also tasted heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), gave us insight into how it changed his viewpoint about life:
24 However, I consider my [this] life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24
We learned yesterday that Jesus is the Messiah. Today we learned what He came to do. Tomorrow, we will begin looking at the fulfillment of His Plan with the Triumphant Entry.
Abba, help us to trust You to have everything worked out for us. How we live for You and how we die for You is entirely up to You. We will trust You to lead us, strengthen us, give us everything we need to serve You, and the faith to die for You. We trust You for the bigger picture, knowing You will be with us always, and I believe Your presence becomes more and more evident as our time draws near. Just to see Your face and stand/bow in Your presence will make it all worthwhile! Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.