Wednesday, August 3, 2011

for Thursday (August 4) Gospel: misconception

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-23

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you." 23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."

Who is Jesus for you? At an opportune time Jesus tests his disciples with a crucial question: Who do men say that I am and who do you say that I am?

He was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God. Jesus then confers on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers would overcome.

Jesus plays on Peter's name which is the same word for "rock" in both Aramaic and Greek. To call someone a "rock" is one of the greatest of compliments.

The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I have discovered a rock to found the world upon". Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was.

He was the first apostle to recognize Jesus as the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God. The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5).

Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

When Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer many things, be rejected by the religious authorities in Jerusalem, and then be put to death, he also prophesied that he would be raised on the third day.

Peter, always quick to respond, rejected the notion that the Messiah must suffer and be killed.

This wasn't the kind of Messiah that Peter and the Jews expected. They didn't understand that the prophet Isaiah, some 700 hundred years before Christ's birth, foretold that God's Anointed One would come as the Suffering Servant who would be despised, rejected, and put to death to atone for the sins of the world [see Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53:1-12] .

Jesus saw in Peter's rejection a temptation to avoid the way of the cross which involved obedience and trust in God's will, and voluntary suffering and sacrifice for the sake of others.

Jesus rebuked not only Peter but Satan, the greatest of angels who disobeyed and refused to serve his Lord and Creator.

Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus, to suffer and die for him, that you may also share in his glory and resurrection?

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