Sunday 31 August 2014

Bible Book:

“You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (v. 23)

Matthew 16:21-28 Sunday 31 August 2014


Peter, who can almost certainly be regarded as acting as aspokesperson for all the disciples, has just declared Jesus to bethe Messiah, God's promised chosen agent of salvation. As a resulta new phase of the gospel story begins, indicated by the openingwords, "From that time on" (v. 21). Up till now Jesus has addressedthe crowds; now his focus is on the disciples as he speaks of thenecessity of his suffering, death and resurrection.

Peter's strong aversion to the idea of a suffering Messiah - andwe assume the others are equally askance at the idea - leads to anequally forthright response from Jesus, who "turned" (v. 23) tomake sure that they understood he was speaking to them all. But heperceives that it is the devil, for whom "Satan" (meaning'opponent') is a common name, that is prompting the view Peterexpresses. At no point until he dies is Jesus free of thetemptation to look for an easier way than the one he knows that Godhas determined for him.

Jesus then reminds his disciples (for, along with the widercrowd, they have heard it before - see Matthew 10:38-39) how they cannot follow himwithout likewise setting aside their own interests and taking uptheir cross. That language derives from the fact that condemnedcriminals were required to carry the cross-bar of the cross onwhich they would be crucified to the place of execution.

The passage ends with Jesus looking beyond his cross to hisfuture glory. "Son of Man" (v. 28) is the self-description heprefers. He will judge at that time the quality of the allegianceof everyone.

To Ponder

  • What aspects of Jesus' message make you inclined to say, asdoes Peter in this episode, "God forbid" (v. 22)?
  • What does 'deny yourself' (verse 24) particularly require fromyou? What is your biggest struggle to put your own interests secondto what you know Jesus expects of you?
  • Peter's reaction to Jesus' life-plan was to think itdisastrous. Concerning what "disasters" in your own life have youfound it hard to accept that they may be God's purpose?

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