Do you ever wonder how something so simple can be so hard? Why is it “believing what God has said” tend to be very place that we get stuck? Don’t worry, you are in good company. Peter had a tough time believing what God said. Well in this case it was Jesus doing the talking, but Peter tended to express his own opinion and glorify himself over believing what Jesus said. Maybe I have already lost you but hang on I do have some proof.
There is a rather exciting exchange between Jesus and Peter that most of you have heard of and maybe even studied with exhaustive detail. Still, I bet you have been confused, at least I have been. Here is the first installment:
Matthew 16:13-20 English Standard Version (ESV) 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others sayElijah, 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-Jonah! 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[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] 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[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Wow, Peter is amazing, right? Well check this out just a few verses later:
Matthew 16:21-23 English Standard Version (ESV) 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 aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![a] This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[b] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
So what is going on? Let me share one more passage that will bring it together:
Matthew 7:24-27 English Standard Version (ESV) 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
First Jesus refers to Peter as Simon in the first passage. Simon means “to hear” or “hearing.” Peter means “rock.” (but most of you already knew that). We have been taught many interpretations of this first passage. The key is the Matt 7 passage. The word “does” in this section means “to make” or “abide” or “agree” or a derivative of “poet.” So I believe Jesus is saying “Simon you have heard and totally agreed with and are abiding in what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you – that I am the Messiah. This is like the wise man who built his house on a rock and your believing, agreeing, abiding in what God has revealed to you (told you) is the very rock that withstands every attack. This relationship of trust is the very thing that will be the foundation of my body of believers. When you believe in what I have told you, even the gates of hell cannot prevail. Heaven and all the power of the Kingdom is behind anything you do when you are operating from the truths I have revealed to you.” Think about it. Even the demons know who Jesus is so it is not the confession alone. Can you see that the confession is the logical expression of agreeing with a truth made evident to Peter?
Why do I think this is so important? It’s obvious now, isn’t it? When Jesus says “get behind me Satan” those are some pretty strong words. In the first case Peter was agreeing with what God said. In the second exchange Peter is “rebuking” what God said. Jesus then rebukes Peter’s thinking, what he is believing. Can you see that we can step into the same mistake? Often times we make excuses when our experience doesn’t match up with what God says about us. We want to hold onto old opinions, history and listen to the enemy instead of believing in what God said. For example, God says we are His righteousness. That means I am in perfectly right standing with God, period. It is not conditional in any way. That is what the Bible says. Do you believe it? If not, aren’t you Peter in rebuke? I don’t mean this discussion as a beating, but quite the contrary. God says amazing things about you, your relationship with Him and so much more because of WHAT JESUS DID. Every time I disagree with God and add a “yeah, but…” to what God has said, I am a rebuking Peter. Believe in what He has said. Live from a solid foundation. It will set you free. Most often our own desire for control, carnal wisdom, pride, stubbornness or just plain wrong teaching keeps us trapped. Jesus made it very clear:
Matthew 16:24-25 English Standard Version (ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Do you know that this passage is absolutely beautiful and liberating!? I don’t have to listen to my selfish dumb ideas any more. I don’t have to live in rebellion any more. As a matter of fact this is one of the truths that we get to believe. I have a new nature and I am a new creation. I get to ignore that stubborn, prideful flesh and live free in Jesus. The wisdom of the world no longer has any control over my thinking. I think that is pretty amazing.