Matthew 17-13-28 (audio file for download or streaming)
Well, we finished up our study of James last week. I hope it was a good time for you. I really leaned a lot from it, and I pray that God will remind us all of things that we learned in that study for years to come. What is more important, I pray that we as individuals and as a body will put into practice the lessons and truths that we have learned in James. For the next few weeks, until the Sunday after Easter we will be looking at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This week we are going to look at the setup to Easter. Next week we will skip ahead of the triumphal entry to talk about Jesus and Religious people, then Palm Sunday, and Easter.
So, what we are looking at today is the same story we heard from the book of Mark, but we are going to look at it from the book of Matthew. So, if you will open your Bibles to Matthew 16, verse 13, we will be reading that in just a minute.
Before we read this story, I want to give you a little bit of backdrop, because we are dipping into the middle of a story. So, this guy named Jesus, was born in a manger, right, fast forward 30 years, and he bursts onto the scene as a wise teacher, who not only spoke boldly, but also had some significant miracles to boot. He is healing people, and casting out demons, and feeding thousands with a couple loaves and fish. He is getting to be incredibly popular. People are coming from miles around to hear him preach, and he has impressed just about everyone, but the Pharisees. And he has this group of guys, his entourage if you will, following him around wherever he goes. and a lot of the time they are the comic relief in the story, which we will see a little bit today, because they always seem to miss the point of what Jesus is saying. Jesus speaks mostly in parables. you know what a parable is right, a story that illustrates a particular truth. Well, Jesus used these a lot to get points across to his followers when there was a truth he wanted to convey. Well, the thing is that usually Jesus’ disciples hardly ever understood what Jesus meant. He was telling these parables to dumb it down for them, and then they are like, “Can you use smaller words Jesus? I’m not tracking with you on this.” Well here today we have another example of this, but it is at the watershed moment of Jesus’ ministry. This is the point at which Jesus, lays out or the first time, what exactly the Christ is here to do. Then He has to explain it again for the dimwitted disciple Peter. Lets read the text shall we?…
Ok, so lets look at what we have here in this text, there are three main elements to this interaction between Jesus and His disciples that I want to look at today. I will say just as a disclaimer that there is a ton of stuff in this text, with vast theological implications for believers, Instead of drawing out every one of those I am just gong to look at the outline of this exchange and how it fits into our understanding of Jesus’ work and what he is here to accomplish.
-All this time until now, Jesus was proving Himself to be the Christ to His disciples, and to the world. The one who had been promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden, the one who would crush the serpent’s head. The one foretold through Isaiah, who would have the government upon his shoulders.
-The moment of truth for Peter is when Jesus asks him this question. Who do you say that I am? There are all these people who have these ideas of who I am, but who do you say that I am? And this moment that was building up for the whole first part of the story happens. He says, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
-This is a huge revelation for Peter, because all his life as a Jew he has been hearing about the Christ, who will be sent to rescue God’s people. He has read the stories in Isaiah, and heard of the one prophesied to be the one who would come. This is a huge moment for him, so much is riding on this, and he is in a front row seat to this Government overthrow that is about to take place. Peter has got to be feeling pretty good right now. You think? Further more, Jesus says, that this revelation did not come from flesh and blood, but from God Himself. That is pretty huge! I imagine that feeling would keep him on cloud nine for weeks, maybe even years. That is why what happens next is crazy. Because here we see a divergence of Peter’s idea of the Christ, and Jesus’ Idea of the Christ. SO Jesus needs to reset Peter’s understanding. Lets look again at verses 21-22
The Reset: Immediately after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, the savior, Jesus, begins to unpack what that means. It means that he would be killed, and raised from the dead. He resets their understanding of the Christ in two major ways, from Earthly kingdom to heavenly Kingdom, and from outward bondage to inward bondage.
- From Earthly Kingdom to heavenly. So here we see up close and personal what Peter meant when he said, “you are the Christ.” His understanding which was the prominent one at the time was that Jesus was here to bring in the new world order. He was here to overthrow Roman rule and be the monarch of the new ruling establishment. he had been practicing his swordsmanship for the battle as we will see later in Gethsemany, and he was ready to throw down. He even thinks he can tell God what to do. He hears Jesus talking about death, and he pulls him aside and rebukes him for it. Then Jesus says something to him that is one huge argument for the inerrancy of scripture. He calls him out! Now, there is some debate over whether Jesus is talking to Peter, or actually to Satan when he says this, but at any rate, he is taking Peter over his knee in front of us all. Don’t you think if you were as influential as Peter back then you might have pulled some strings and gotten that taken out, or at least changed the name. Told people it was Thomas or something, people already know he is a little off. But the Key to what Jesus says is in the second half of verse 23 when he says, this is not about earthly stuff, this is about God’s stuff. You have your mind on what you see, when you need to have your mind on what you don’t see. What God sees.
- From outward bondage to inward. The root of this problem in Peter’s mind comes just before this section. If you look at verses 5-12, you see Jesus addressing the Pharisees, and telling His disciples to watch out for the teaching of the Pharisees. What did they teach? That by following all the commands of the law, that you could be made right with God. They did not realize that the sacrificial system that was set up by God in the Old testament, was not the thing that made them right, it was simply a means by which God was preparing them to understand the mission that Jesus came to fulfill. By Jesus setting His face to Jerusalem, he was saying, “I am the sacrificial lamb. I am the one who will shed my blood to fulfill what was lacking in your sacrifices of old. I am the one who has come to take care of your main problem, not outward bondage to people, but inward bondage to sin, and it’s punishment.”
- You see we learn later on in Romans and Hebrews that the blood of goats and bulls cannot forgive sins, and that in His forbearance, God had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. So when Peter and many others had thought, yeah we have all these rules to follow that make us Holy, and this sacrificial system wen we blow it, we are good there, now lets rout some Romans, what they failed to realize was that the most intense bondage they would ever suffer would be the full weight of punishment for their sins. And that is what the Christ was really here to take care of.
– This is an amazing moment where Jesus lets his disciples in on something. He says, do you want to be with me? Do you really want to be in my posse? Do you really want to be great like Peter thought? If you do, take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you have got to give it up. if you want to have true profit, you have to not go after the whole world, if so, you will lose your soul, you must come after me.
As we close this morning, I have three questions for us:
- In what way is your view of Jesus in need of resetting? (If your not sure, read the Bible to find out)
- Have you experienced the revelation?
- How have you answered the invitation?