Matthew 16:15-17, 21-23 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. … From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
- Reflect On: Matthew 16:13-23.
- Praise God: Because His thoughts are higher than ours.
- Offer Thanks: For Christ’s willingness to suffer.
- Confess: Any tendency to settle for less than what Christ desires for you.
- Ask God: To give you His mind and heart.
Like the rest of the Jews who were looking for Israel’s deliverance, Peter was guilty of trying to reshape Jesus into the Messiah he wanted, not the Messiah he needed. His failure to see that the main problem was not external dominance but the internal oppression of sin made him like a doctor who performs cosmetic surgery when what a patient really needs is a quadruple bypass. Jesus, the most perceptive of physicians, wasn’t interested in merely alleviating human suffering. He wanted His people to live forever. And to do that, He was willing to lay down His life in order to Himself become their medicine.
I wonder how many of us make Peter’s mistake, even with the benefit of hindsight. We know that Jesus came to deliver us by dying on a cross and then rising from the dead, but do we realize that after having gone to such an extreme, Christ is not about to let us settle for the surface goods we so ardently desire?
… Then it occurs to me to wonder about my own priorities. How much time do I spend thinking about quick fixes that would improve my life? How about a little more money? Or what if I could teach my children to respond to my every request with: “Yes, Mama, whatever you say, Mama?” Or what if I could retire early and travel the world? Wouldn’t all these things make my life better? Maybe, but maybe not. Sometimes getting what you want is more of a curse than a blessing.
Jesus, it would seem, specializes not in the quick fix but in the kind of extreme makeover that transforms us and the world from the inside. Such changes take time. Though Christ blesses us in this life, His goals for us stretch far beyond it. That’s one reason we won’t always get what we pray for.
Instead of the success I desire, I may need to endure a time of humiliation and loss. Or instead of controlling my children, I may need to learn how to guide them into greater maturity. Or rather than granting me early retirement, Christ may reveal new ways for me to serve.
What do you want Jesus to do for you today? Make a wish list. Then ask Him to show you what you truly need rather than what you simply want. Write down what you hear. Ask Christ for the grace to transform your mind so that you can begin to make His priorities yours. Then praise Him for being the Messiah you need rather than merely the Messiah you want.