The Things of Man vs. the Things of God

He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 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.’ 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. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Matthew 16:15-17,21-23

How can Peter go so quickly from his bold proclamation that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God” to taking him aside and rebuking Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord!”? Jesus tells him why, his thinking was of the world, topsy turvy.

The things of man involve the glory of position, power, places of honor. It was a good and pleasing reality that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. But in hearing of imminent suffering and death, Peter’s mind got stuck, and he’d have none of it. It’s as though he didn’t even hear about the promised resurrection (“and on the third day be raised”). It was God Who revealed the truth about Jesus as God’s Son, but when human feeling comes into play, the message about pain and death gets clouded by emotion and preference. As humans, we want to avoid suffering; we crave comfort, smooth waters, ease—and in our culture we are told this is the good life. Pain is a foreigner we abhor and refuse to entertain. We can adore a God of benevolent goodness but shrink at the way of the cross. What we miss with this attitude is the way of grace, the beauty of redemption, the power and life in resurrection. Without illness, there is no healing, without suffering there is no solace and comfort.

Jesus, foreshadowing a lesson from His impending cross, continues His teaching: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” This world’s clamor of empty promises of carefree ease and eternal youth, and clutter of temporal luxuries and the things of man, knows nothing of true life. Only the seed that dies bears fruit. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.'” (Matthew 16:24-25; John 12:23-24)

Lord, it is Your suffering and death that wrought Your resurrection glory. Turn my mind from the incessant barrage of the things of man to the things of God, that I might love the things of You most of all.

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