Run! (Part 2)
(Part 1 here)
2. The 2nd Hurdle we face is resisting in our submission to Christ.
While still off on their teaching retreat, Christ begins to ask the 12 questions about His identity. He first steers the conversation by inquiring about the crowd’s opinion of Him. He then asks them point blank who the 12 think He is. As the de facto leader of the group, Peter answers boldly: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus confirms this to him and admits that He has not told Peter this, but that the Father has revealed it to Peter in his heart. What I find interesting is verse 21:
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.
They have been with him for 3 years, but it isn’t until this moment that Jesus finally lets them in on the Father’s plan for Him. He lays all of His cards on the table for them to see. Jesus did not let them in on the big picture until they recognized that He was God (!), revealing their understanding of Him after years of discipleship. You see, there is a difference between knowing who Christ is, and understanding who He is and how that affects the way we live. The disciples knew Jesus intimately from years of being with Him, but at this point they demonstrate that they finally understand who He is by acknowledging His deity and fulfillment of prophecy as the Messiah.
But in spite of this dawning realization, Peter is not happy about what he is hearing. Christ has to suffer? And to be mocked and abused and murdered!?! It is more than he can bear. And so it is that the man who had just proclaimed that Jesus was God incarnate now rebukes Jesus and tells Him to change His plan. Jesus had some strong words for that in verse 23:
“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.”
Ouch! I try to picture in my mind what it would feel like to be standing face to face with Jesus and to have Him tell me the same thing. It is almost unbearable. It seems like a pretty harsh sentiment until you realize what Peter was doing here. He was committing open rebellion against the Creator of the world. He could not claim ignorance any longer; he knew perfectly well that Jesus was the Son of God and that he owed Jesus his absolute, unwavering loyalty and obedience, but he still wasn’t willing to give it yet, as demonstrated a few verses later when Peter dares to tell Jesus to shut up and change His plans to fit Peter’s agenda. It is not only absurd; it is downright depraved. Just think about the history of Israel and how seriously God had taken offense to every betrayal and abandonment of His chosen people as they committed spiritual adultery, choosing false gods and rejecting Him in a cycle of judgment and destruction, time after time. That’s what Peter was doing here, and Christ makes it clear if you refuse to serve God’s will, then you are serving Satan’s.
How often do we do this? How often do we tell Christ that He is Lord of our lives but we blatantly disregard His will for us in favor of our own plan? It may not be in a big way, and we may not even recognize it when it is happening. Peter thought he was doing the right thing by trying to sway Jesus away from the pain and suffering that was ahead of Him. But as Jesus pointed out, any resistance to His Lordship puts us at odds with His will. We need to grow spiritually to overcome this terrible mistake.
Solution: Determine to take seriously the Lordship of Jesus.
The difference between the Peter of the Gospels and the Peter of Acts is one of submission. In the Gospels you have a Peter who is refusing to give in to the Lordship of Jesus even as he persistently follows Him. In Acts you have a Peter who has wholeheartedly embraced the Lordship of Jesus in his life, having learned the hard way the cost of just going through the motions in following Christ. We too need to embrace His Lordship over us, not just in lip-service but in a reckless abandon that demonstrates our indebtedness to His loving gift of grace. We need to get serious about making Jesus the Lord of our lives every single day. This will enable us to grow closer to Him as He remakes us in His image on a daily basis.