Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Millennial Thinking – Setting our Minds and Affections on the Interests of God

April 10th, 2011 · No Comments

The text of Matthew 16:13-17-8 marks a major transition point in the narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry, for we here may begin to trace the progressive stages of revelation that Jesus’ disciples must receive in the last few months of His earthly ministry, leading up to the climactic events in Jerusalem in which He, through death and resurrection, will fulfill the first major stage of what the Scriptures foretold concerning the Messiah’s sufferings and the glories that would follow.

It begins with Simon Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scriptures, the Son of the Living God, a truth he has come to know by revelation from the Father. The revelation of the mystery concerning Who Jesus is and the whole Divine program of redemption centered in Him becomes the foundation upon which Jesus builds the Church that the gates of Hades cannot overpower.

Matthew 16:21 is critical, for Jesus Christ from that time on begins to show His disciples that His date with destiny in Jerusalem was other than what they had thought. In Jewish thinking of that time Messiah was coming as a triumphant King who would free Israel from the yoke of Rome and establish a kingdom that touches all nations. This indeed was predicted in the Scriptures of the prophets. What the disciples and their Jewish brethren had missed was that Scripture also predicted that the Messiah first must suffer, and then enter His glory (cf. Luke 24; 1 Peter 1:10-12). Jesus thus begins to show the disciples that Israel’s restoration and indeed the restoration of the whole cosmos depended upon the Messiah being rejected, crucified, and raised the third day.

Peter rebukes Jesus for thinking along these lines. He knows that Jesus is the Messiah, but thinks that Jesus must go to Jerusalem to be hailed as Israel’s Messianic King and accepted as such by the Jewish leadership, after which He would free Israel from the yoke of Rome. Jesus in turn rebukes Peter, who, in his counsel, is unknowingly acting as an agent of Satan, setting himself in opposition to the Divine plan, which requires that Jesus must suffer rejection and crucifixion, by which He will fully accomplish what was necessary for our redemption. Peter’s problem, as it turns out, is much the same as ours in modern church culture today: he was setting his mind and affections on the interests of man, not on the interests of God. Jesus, thankfully, would not be dissuaded by Peter’s reasonings, for He had set His heart on doing the will of the Father Who had sent Him, which meant obedience even unto death on a Cross.

This paradigm of obedience even unto death becomes the model upon which Jesus calls us to be His disciples. If any man would come after Jesus, to be His disciple, he too must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus in the path of obedience and suffering in which one, out of love and gratitude for the grace of redemption, loses one’s life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel, with the promise being that in so doing one actually gains one’s life, preserves one’s soul.

Our study ends with consideration of Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2, that we are to follow Jesus’ example of humility and obedience to the Father’s will, knowing that God works in us (energizing our spirit by His glorious power) to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Tags: Sermons

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