MATTHEW 16:23: “Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (NLT)
OBSERVATION: How am I viewing life? This is the question I find myself wrestling with as I read this verse from Matthew. From Jesus’ words to Peter, it appears there are really only two perspectives. We can view life from a human point of view, which is influenced by sin, self, and the enemy of our souls. Or – we can view life from God’s point of view, which is influenced by surrender, God’s Word, and the Spirit of God.
To most of us this is nothing new. Yet, if we simply glance over these two points we miss the most important lesson we can glean from this passage. That is the subtlety of how easy it is to slip from one to the other. One moment we can find ourselves walking in the counsel of God’s Word, and in the power of the Spirit. The very next moment we can find ourselves succumbing to the influence of the enemy. How does this happen?
In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew we see both happen to Peter. In Matthew 16:15-17 we see Peter being commended by Jesus for his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
- “Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.” (Matthew 16:15-17 NLT)
This revelation, the ability to see things from God’s perspective, did not come from Peter, but from the Father in heaven. Jesus was emphatic – “You did not learn this from any human being.” This was one of the greatest moments in Peter’s life. What a great moment it is in our life when we receive revelation from the Father – the ability to see as He sees!
Yet, in the same setting, as Jesus begins telling his disciples that He would have to suffer and die, Peter experiences one of the lowest moments in his life. Peter, like many of us, was a bit impetuous. He dove into things before praying about them, and before thinking about them. This is exactly what he did when he rebuked Jesus.
- “But Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 NLT)
This rebuke did not emanate out of an evil motive, it emanated out of Peter’s love for Jesus. Peter could not imagine his Lord suffering at the hands of evil men. And being a man of action, he was going to let Jesus know it would not happen on his watch. And here is where we see Peter fall into the subtlety of human thinking – right after ascending to the heights of godly thinking. It can happen in a moment – if we fail to understand our susceptibility to this pitfall.
How did Jesus respond after rebuking this “thought” of Peter’s? Jesus knew Peter loved him, and He loved Peter. Yet, He loved Peter enough to rebuke his comment and make Peter aware of its origin. When we begin to follow human thinking, we are walking in the pathway of the enemy’s influence. Human thinking and reasoning always leads us away from the things of the Spirit. Jesus was not simply going to correct Peter, He was also going to guide Peter. How could Peter, and how can we, avoid the pitfall of human thinking? How can we walk in the fullness of the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit?
There is only one answer. It is the Cross!
- “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 NLT)
The cross was what Peter was rejecting in his rebuke of Jesus’ prediction of His death. Yet, it was only the cross that would bring God’s redemption to man, and offer man the ability to walk in the wisdom and fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is not simply a call to come to salvation in Jesus Christ. This is a call to a daily walk of surrender and obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Cross represents both our salvation from sin, and our call to walk in the fullness of the Spirit. It is our constant reminder that we must moment by moment, day by day, give up our own way (human thinking), and walk in His way (godly thinking).
- “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14 NLT)
Lord, this morning, and every day, let me walk in the full revelation of the Cross!
In Jesus Name!