Does your perception of Jesus truly reflect who He is? Many reject Jesus based on their own view of Him and what they think He should be like as the Son of God. However, their is a simple truth that must be taken into account… You can't reshape Jesus into something that He isn't. He is who He is. And neither should we allow Satan's distortions take hold of us. Uncover the truth about the Messiah and it's daily impact in your life.
So we’re gonna dive in. We’re jumping back into the ministry of Jesus after taking a small break for our family festival last week. And we’re gonna be in Matthew chapter 16. If you’d like to turn there, it will also be on the screen if you’d rather follow along that way. And before we jump into today’s passage, I want to review a couple weeks ago because we’re going to pick up right where Tony left off. In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus asked his disciples the question, who do people say the Son of man is? And they answered Jesus with John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. But then he asked his disciples, who do you say that I am?
To which Peter replies, you are the Messiah, the son of the living God. And Jesus goes on to give Peter the all time greatest atta boy. And he says, on this rock I will build my church. We talked about how Peter was given the name from Simon to Peter, and it means rock. And so that’s where we’re going to pick up.
And a quick story before we jump into our text. My sister lives in Maine. Her and her husband. And the first few years that my sister lived there, I would fly up to Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s where my parents live. My parents are here today somewhere. I’m grateful to have them here. So I would fly up to Charlotte and then we would drive from Charlotte to Maine. And the first time we drove up, my dad told my mom and I that he wanted to stop off at some of the Civil War battlefields. So when I first heard this, I thought that it was a pretty cool idea. If you know me, I like history, I like random facts. I like to learn things. So I thought it would be pretty fun. But little did my mom and I know that what we thought visiting a Civil War battleground was very different from what my dad envisioned. My mom and I were very content with seeing the main things, kind of hearing the main stories about the battle, hearing some facts, some stories.
But my dad wanted to see every single blade of grass. He wanted to read everything that he could get his hands and his eyes on. And at that point, me and my mom were wiped out. We were just ready to go, ready to get up to Maine or sometimes coming back home. Ready to get back home.
But what’s the point? Just as I was unaware of what this entailed, we’re going to see today that Peter, although he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, which we learned a couple of weeks ago, his idea of what that meant was very different from reality. So let’s pick up in Matthew 16. Starting in verse 21, we’re going to read through the text and then we’ll work our way back through it. It says, from that time on, Jesus began to explain, and what he’s explaining is what it means to be the Messiah.
He began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Rebuke Jesus? He says, never Lord, this shall never happen to you. Jesus turned and said to Peter, get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to me.
You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns. Merry Christmas season right? We’re not pulling punches during the holidays.
So in verse 21, like I said, Jesus is explaining what exactly it means to Peter’s answer that he is the Messiah. And he tells them four things. He says three in this passage, and I’m adding one in from the Book of Mark as well. And those four things are this, he will suffer. And not just suffer, but he’s going to suffer at the hands of those who he’s been opposing his entire ministry. Right? The one I added in from the Book of Mark is that he will be rejected, he will have to die, and then he will rise on the third day. And I want to make sure that we’re clear on this. Jesus is a long way from Jerusalem, both in proximity, he’s about 100 miles away.
And remember, he’s walking, they’re not driving or flying. And also in the timeline of the cross, there’s some time between these two events. So well before Jesus goes to Jerusalem, he knows what awaits him there, right? And this is important because his arrest, his trial, his death, all of these things did not come as a surprise to him. This was no accident in history or no accident on God’s part.
I love the analogy Tony used a few weeks ago about the superhero movie, right, where Peter was saying Jesus was the Messiah because he was their only hope. But the main difference here is that this isn’t like Captain America where this skinny little nobody just happens to come along, this superhero and become a hero. This was the plan from the beginning. It wasn’t plan B, it wasn’t plan C, it was plan A. And it should strengthen our faith that Jesus knew going in what he was getting himself into, and he went in with eyes wide open.
He knew what would happen to him. Check out Hebrews twelve, verses two and three. It says, for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame and set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. It should strengthen our faith because love compelled Jesus to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and be rejected and be killed and ultimately raised to life for all of humanity.
So you have Peter who says Jesus is the messiah. Amen. That is the right answer. And then you have Jesus clarifying what it means to be the Messiah.
He suffers, he’s rejected, he dies. This is the full picture of what it means.
Now, the word rejected, which I included from the Gospel of Mark, is the Greek word. Well, I didn’t include it there. It’s the Greek word apata camiso. Now, this word is used in a couple of significant places that helps us understand who Jesus is and what his purpose is. And in the Book of Mark, Jesus quotes a passage from Psalm 18 which is on the screen and it says, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. See, Jesus is alluding to the prediction that was made a long time ago. And it’s that this cornerstone, who is Jesus, is going to be rejected by the teachers of the law and ultimately would torture and kill him. And the reason being is that Jesus didn’t match up what they expected from the Messiah, so he must not be him. And we see that Peter is having a hard time with that exact same thing.
He believes Jesus is the Messiah, but just not the way the reality has him being. Let’s reread Peter’s response to Jesus in verse 22. It says Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Never lord, he said. This shall never happen to you. See, Peter doesn’t like the explanation of what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah.
And so we have to ask ourselves today, do we reshape Jesus according to your liking? See, Peter here, just like the Pharisees and the teachers of law, still have in his mind that Jesus ultimately will take down Rome and restore power to God’s people, right? Now, obviously, this isn’t what it is for us today. It doesn’t look like that. But we certainly try to reshape Jesus to fit our lifestyle.
We’re taught from a very young age to be self focused and self promoting constantly. Look at TikTok, right? It is literally a platform of crazy dances in order to get people to look at you. And to justify it, we say, God loves me how I am, or if I want to reach the world, I have to do everything they do or whatever it is that we try to tell ourselves to live as the world lives. And to be clear, TikTok isn’t all bad, but a lot of it is.
But it’s just a microcosm of what the world is as a whole, right? It’s not just TikTok. TikTok is just a picture of what the world looks like today. We want the good things that Jesus has to offer, but we ignore everything else sometimes. We live in a society that shouts John 316, but won’t read through verse 21 right?
From the time that Jesus walked the earth till today, we’ve been convincing ourselves that Jesus is exactly who I say that he is. And it’s so that we can live however we want and not feel guilty or at least live at an acceptable comfort level. See, Jesus came as one to be rejected. And if we’re going to be like him, then we are going to be rejected too. We spend so much time and energy trying to prevent this very thing. But if we’re living like Jesus, it is inevitable that we will be rejected in some form or fashion.
So you have to ask yourself that this life that you’re living today, are you willing to be rejected just as Jesus was? Do you embrace it because it means that you’re doing something right? And let’s be honest, the rejection that Jesus faced and the rejection that his disciples faced is far worse than what we’re called to face today. And we’ll come back to this thought towards the end. But first, let’s take a look at Jesus’s response back to Peter.
In verse 23, it says Jesus turned and said to Peter, get behind me, Satan. We’re actually going to stop there. We’ll come back to the rest. When I read this, I always think about those times you’re arguing with a friend and then you’re one upping each other. Then someone just goes too far and you’re like, Whoa, whoa.
And you’re like, okay, yeah, my bad. Too far, too far, too far. But this is Jesus, right? So he can’t be wrong in his rebuke of Peter’s rebuke. So I want to start off by reminding us that five verses earlier, which we read two weeks ago, we see that God has inspired Peter’s answer to Jesus question, who do you say I am, right? We talked about this a couple of weeks ago that Jesus says this answer came from God. It didn’t come from yourself. In five verses later, we see that Satan seemingly is now speaking through Peter. That’s a scary fact, right?
We have one of Jesus’s disciples who’s inspired by God and speaking, God speaking through him. And then a couple of passages later, Satan is speaking through him. And you know, Jesus has this response not because Peter is being possessed by Satan or anything like that, but because in essence, he was serving as a mouthpiece for Satan, thus doing the work of Satan by attempting to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross. We’ll come back to that thought as well. But the fact that we can be a mouthpiece for Satan makes me think two things that are very important and they’re going to seem simple, but they’re pivotal.
We have to be careful of what we say and we have to be careful of who and what we’re listening to. We need to understand that when we’re speaking on spiritual matters or really just speaking at all, whether it’s teaching or preaching or sharing our faith or giving you advice or whatever the avenue is, that if we are speaking against the will of God, then get behind me, Satan might be exactly what Jesus would say to us if he was in our presence. And just an aside for a moment, I love how the scriptures connect. This whole series, there’s been these connecting stories and these connecting passages.
In the very second week in this series, we talked about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan. And Jesus says at the end of that passage, away from me, Satan. And then it says that Satan departed from him until an opportune time. Well, here is that opportune time. And as I thought about it, I actually thought it was kind of cool that Jesus used the words get behind me, Satan to Peter.
And I know it might sound interesting, but the reason being is that he sees this as Satan’s doing right. It reminds me of that saying that Jesus hates the sin, not the sinner. Maybe I’m just trying to throw Peter a bone, but it’s kind of endearing that he doesn’t see it as Peter, he sees it as Satan speaking through Peter. Back to the main point in this moment, I know that what Peter is saying is an effort to try to stop Jesus from going to the cross. So I understand that it’s very, very serious.
But in the same way, we need to make sure that we aren’t preventing anyone or hindering anyone from getting closer to Jesus because of what we say. Check out this passage in Matthew twelve. It says but I tell you that everyone will have to give an account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word that they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. This is one of my favorite passages, but it’s also one of the scariest passages in the Bible, in my opinion. Because it’s not just simply saying stop cursing or stop telling dirty jokes or stop talking behind people’s back.
It’s saying that you’ll have to give an account for every single empty word that you have spoken. And I think especially when you’re speaking to someone about spiritual matters. So we have to be careful about what we say. And then there’s the flip side, right? When we listen, we have to be careful and discern.
Is this person telling me something Godly or not?
If we put ourselves in Peter’s shoes here, it seems very sensible what he’s saying, if you actually put yourself in the moment. If we’ve been given devastating news by a friend or a loved one, what’s our first reaction? It’s disbelief. And it’s this thought that I want to change the outcome in some way. That’s what Peter is feeling in this moment.
But it’s also exactly why we have to be so careful about who and what we listen to, because it might sound very sensible. Now, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people go through hard times unnecessarily or leave God for the simple fact that they heard something that seemed so sensible. But they didn’t do the work to see if what was being said was real, was true, and was right. There’s a scripture that we read so often, yet we overlook the principle so consistently. It’s Acts 17, verse eleven. It says now the Berean Jew was a more noble character than those in Thessalonica for. They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. This is a principle we have to apply when we’re seeking truth. Go to the Scriptures to see if what someone is telling you adds up to what God’s Word says. And I’d also add to seek counsel from trusted sources. All over Proverbs it tells us to do this. The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to council, listen to counsel, and accept discipline that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in the man’s heart, but the council of the Lord will stand. Without consultation plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. So pair God’s Word with solid counsel that you trust because of the wisdom that they have in God’s Word.
And Satan is not dumb or naive, right? He’s certainly going to put people and ideas in front of you that seem so right and so logical. But remember this passage from Colossians. It says, My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ and whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine sounding arguments. So again, it sounds simple. But just because something sounds good doesn’t make it good.
So go back to the Word and go to those who are more schooled in the Scriptures than you so you can trust their counsel. And for the last little bit here, I want to talk about Jesus’s final line to Peter, the second half of verse 23. It says, you are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.
Earlier I brought up this idea about Jesus being rejected. And as I studied out this passage, I thought a lot about why that was. And I know, as we talked about earlier, that it’s because Jesus didn’t fit the mold that people expected. But I kept wondering what it was that Peter had the biggest issue with. And I believe it’s an issue that we still have today.
And it’s this idea of a suffering Messiah. See, like we said earlier, we try to reshape Jesus to our own liking, but Satan is also trying to distort who Jesus is as well. And Satan’s biggest distortion is that Jesus is one who keeps us from suffering in this life. Now, I don’t know if Peter is fully realizing this in this moment, but I’m sure that at some point, all of Jesus’s disciples had to come to the realization that if their Messiah, who is also our Messiah, said he must, if you notice in the passage, it says that Jesus must go to Jerusalem and suffer. And we are supposed to be like Him, right?
And just like we’re going to be rejected as he was, we’re also going to have to suffer as well. Rejection and suffering are similar, but they are not the same. There’s a difference between someone rejecting you and you’re kind of like, whatever, and then suffering through life. It’s a distortion that Satan is parading in front of the world, and it’s working in so many cases, right? There are so many people that look towards Christianity and either never come to it or quit because they think that if God is so great, then why do you and I have to suffer?
And the thought that I believe people have, even if they’re unwilling to say it out loud, is this, Jesus came so I wouldn’t have to suffer. Or maybe Jesus should have come so I didn’t have to suffer. It’s what they thought when they assumed the Messiah would be this commander coming to reclaim glory and status for God’s people. And it’s morphed now into thinking that God is supposed to do our bidding as long as we follow some rules or we try to be good in our own standards. And this isn’t a mystery, right?
It’s talked about all over the Bible. And as I read through some of these passages, I want you to notice so many of the things that accompany these passages about suffering. There’s so many great things that come along with it. And I’m just going to put the references on the screen, but I’ll read each one of these verses. One Peter 314 but even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened.
One Peter four one therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. One Peter 5:10 and the God of all grace who called you into his eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Two Corinthians 4:17 for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Galatians two six carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.
James 1:12 my favorite passage blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. In John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.
I could go on and on with these passages. They’re everywhere. But ultimately, if we choose to suffer as Christ has suffered here on earth, this is what it will lead to. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying look, God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with Him. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
See, Jesus is the Messiah. And what that meant is that he had to suffer and be rejected. He had to die. And we also, if we follow him, will be rejected and suffer and must die to ourselves. But a glory beyond comprehension awaits if we hold to Him, right?
CS. Lewis said it like this if you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end. If you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin and in the end, despair.
See, Satan’s name means adversary and opposition. And through Peter, he was trying to prevent Jesus from going to the cross. And today he’s trying to prevent us from kneeling at the cross. So we can’t reshape Jesus to something that he isn’t. And we can’t allow Satan’s distortion take hold of us.
And so, as we pray and take communion, let’s remember that Jesus didn’t come to save us from our suffering, but rather he suffered to save us. And that he isn’t going to stop all of our pain, but he will redeem it and give it meaning. Amen. Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, we just want to thank you for who you are as the Messiah. God, I know that it can be hard to understand a Messiah who is all powerful but had to come and had to suffer, had to die, had to be put on a cross and die at the most horrendous death in history. God, I pray that we see the weakness that we have on earth, the suffering that we have to endure as a blessing, because it will mean that we get to be with you forever. God, I pray that as we go into the holiday season and we’re kind of out of our normal schedule, that we take some time to reflect about what we believe about you and see the ways that we’re reshaping you and what we say, the way that we live. And God, I pray that we can have a true picture of who you are, a true picture of who we are supposed to be as your followers.
God, I pray that if we are teetering one way or the other, whether we are already Christians, whether we’re studying and considering becoming a Christian god, I pray that we see that the hard times, the suffering in this life will ultimately be worth a lifetime with you in paradise. God, we love you. We thank you for your scriptures, the way they guide us, the way they teach us, the way they give us truth. God, I pray that we can remember to go back to it daily, that we can find truth in your Scriptures even when we hear fine sounding arguments. God I pray that no one will be led astray by the distortion that Satan tries to give us of your Son, of Your Word, who you are, that we see that Jesus is in front and Satan is behind and that we will live that way.
God, we love you. We focus on you now as we remember the sacrifice of your Son on the cross and it’s in his name that we pray. Amen.