Discipleship

Following Him! Part I

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Peter, who had just boldly proclaimed his faith, quickly forgets it and stumbles to his own will.

Matthew 16: 21-28

Peter, who had just boldly proclaimed his faith, quickly forgets it and stumbles to his own will. He sees that the Lord is in danger and thinks it is his role to protect The God of the universe. He does not see Jesus' will and plan, and desires to protect the Lord from His willful destiny. Peter, the stone is now Peter, the stumbling block.

From that time, Jesus now shifts from the focus of His pubic ministry to the vigilant training of the Disciples, His role as the Messiah, which requires His death and resurrection-not political agendas (Mark 9:30-31), and foretelling His mission of the cross.

· Peter knew of Jesus "secret identity," secret, because people would try to use Him for a mission for which He was not meant, or shape Him into something that He was not. Hence, we understand the following verses that tell us we must deny ourselves to be real in Him. Peter had a defective perception of who Jesus was. Peter knew Jesus was God, but did not treat Him as so. He tried to protect Jesus, a noble concept; but Peter, who knew Jesus was the great I AM, must have realized He did not need protection.

· Jesus goal was martyrdom (Matthew 20:28). This goal was necessary to pay our dept of sin, and He became the Ultimate Servant! Most OT prophets had a level of self preservation and did not seek martyrdom; but, if it came, they were willing (1 Kings 19: 3-4; Jer. 20:7-18). Peter tried to superimpose His plan upon our Lord's. This is an act we often try to do!

· Rebuked Him. It was tradition that sought a militant Messiah, not Scriptures. Peter was standing up for His tradition of a Messiah that triumphs for the people, and did not understand Jesus' true role, even though He had just told him.

· His Triumph was a million times greater than their expectations. Peter publicly criticizes his teacher, a cultural "no-no;" a teacher or rabbi was never to be criticized-especially publicly. A century after Jesus' crucifixion, Jewish tradition switches to a suffering messiah!

· Stumbling block. Jesus continues to play on the word "petros," Greek for Rock, as a humorous witticism or pun. In the previous passage, Jesus is the Rock that cannot be moved, and Peter is the little stone that was to set on His foundation-as we all are living stones on His foundation. Here, Peter goes from lying on the foundation to lying on the ground, causing himself and others to trip and fall (Mark 8:30-32). This image of a stumbling block is also an illustration of sin and losing one's way.

· So many things can get in our way and cause us to stumble unless we remain on His Rock, our foundation.

· Satan here refers to adversary; Jesus is probably not calling Peter a devil. Jesus identifies Peter with Satan, meaning they are both tempting others (Matt. 4:7-10). Both wanted the Kingdom of God without the Cross. But, the cross was the essential component for the Kingdom as this was the only way we could be allowed into the Kingdom; His cross covers our sin so we can be in God's presence. Jesus, making the connection to Satan, shows the severity of Peter's error. To us, it is the seriousness of authenticity and obedience!

· Get behind me meant, get in line, shape up, and know your place. Our chief oppression is sin-not who occupies the neighborhood. Many rabbis taught that the Messiah must come from the line of David, who then would restore Israel's sovereignty and/or deliver the people from oppression. The David part is correct, but sovereignty rests in God alone-not in a nation (Psalm 2; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-10; 52:13-53:12).

God is much more concerned with our spiritual growth-maturity that develops our character, and relationships that glorify and make Him known-than anything else. Our focus tends to be comfort; we strive to seek personal betterment though careers and money, manipulation and greed. His focus is on how to sanctify and perfect us, not to please and pamper us!

This is not about bearing a burden or rallying to a cause, but identifying with Christ as our Lord. People then, as now, did not want suffering, even though the Bible warns us that suffering precedes the Kingdom-for Him, and, for us, to a much smaller degree. They wanted the triumph without the cost. We can take comfort in our setbacks and sufferings when we are obedient, as it brings Him glory and prepares us for the reality of the Kingdom (1 Peter 4:19; James 1:2-4).

Questions:

1. If you could gain the whole world, that is, have anything you want, what would that be?

2. How, and why, does sin cause a person, you, for example, to lose his or her way? Why is sin more attractive than the eternal Truth and Way of God?

3. What does the committed Christian need to do to remain on His Rock, our foundation? What do we need to do so we do not become stumbling stones?

4. Our chief oppression is sin, not who occupies the neighborhood. Can you expound on this? How, and why, is this so?

5. Explain what deny himself has meant to you? What should it mean; what can it mean?

6. What is your greatest struggle in surrendering and being more committed to Christ as Lord?

7. What does take up the cross mean to you? What should it mean? What can it mean?

8. We tend to see life in terms of the power and possessions we have, but God sees the value of life in spiritual growth that leads to the character and relationships we form. How do you struggle in this area? What would it take to succeed in God's ways more, instead of the worlds?

9. How is it that the ultimate battle in life is not with arms, it is with wills?

10. Where are you in the process of redemption and growth? Such as, what are the things that hinder you? How have you been transformed so far? Where do you still need to be transformed?

© 2004 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org

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