Theme: Self—Denial and Reward
In this week’s lesson we read about what an investment in Christianity entails.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and 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. Lord!” he said, “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 things of God, but the things of men.”
“’Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
I read in a book on etiquette that whenever you introduce two people you should give the name of each person and then tell something about him or her, where the person is from or what he does. Like this: “Sally, I would like you to meet Robert. He works with computers for Dupont.” Or “Robert, this is Sally. She’s a doctor.”
There is a sense in which Matthew is introducing us to Jesus Christ like this in chapter 16. He has been telling us about Jesus all along, of course. But it is here that he gets to the heart of his introduction. Who is Jesus? Peter had the answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Then, What does Jesus do? Jesus himself spoke the answer to that part we are told, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (v. 21).
How do you introduce a person to Jesus Christ? You say, ‘This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He came to earth to suffer and die on the cross for your salvation, and rise from the dead.”
You may have to say that more than once, of course, and explain it. Jesus had to do it more than once with His disciples. “From that time on” marks a turning point in Matthew. Before this Jesus had alluded to His death indirectly only once (Matt. 9:15) and to his resurrection only once (Matt. 12:39-40). Now he began to teach the disciples openly and repeatedly. This teaching was so hard for them to receive that Jesus comes back to it again and again in later chapters (sec Matt. 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:2, 12, 21, 31, 32). There Jesus explains that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem where He would be betrayed. arrested. beaten. tried and crucified. but promises that on the third day He would rise again.
Did the disciples understand what Jesus was telling them? In one sense they didn’t understand it at all. because when Jesus was arrested and killed His death was such a shock to them that immediately they began to scatter. each to his own home, like the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24: l 3-35) Not one of them understood the necessity of His death or anticipated His resurrection. lf fact. most of them refused to believe in the resurrection even after they had heard about it. On the other hand. the disciples understood Jesus” words all too well. Otherwise. why would Peter have tried to dissuade Jesus from this “‘mistaken“ way of thinking?
“Never, Lord!“ Peter said. “This shall never happen to you” (v. 22).
The problem was not their understanding of the words. They understood the words all right. The problem was that suffering did not fit into their ideas of what the Messiah should do. Like everyone else in their day. they thought of Him as a strong political figure who would drive out the Romans and establish them once again as a free and independent nation.
None of this is surprising. The disciples were merely people of their time. They had a long way to go. What is surprising is Peter‘s arrogance in taking Jesus aside to rebuke him. It is an arrogance made even more shocking by his earlier confession of Jesus as the Messiah. lf that meant anything. it meant that Jesus was Peter‘s Lords But immediately after saying that Jesus was his Lord, Peter speaks as if he knows more about God’s will for the Messiah than the Messiah himself.
There is something else equally surprising—the sharpness of Jesus’ rebuke of Peter. A moment before Jesus had called him blessed: “Blessed are you‘ Simon son of Jonah. for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven“ (v. 17). Peter was speaking what had been revealed to him by God. But now Jesus says, “Get behind me‘ Satan! You are a stumbling block to me: you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men“ (v. 23). One moment Peter is God‘s mouthpiece. The next moment he is a mouthpiece for the devil.
In what sense did the disciples not understands Jesus‘ death and resurrection? How do we know?
What is surprising about the encounter between Jesus and Peter in vv. 22 and 23.
What are the steps to Matthew‘s introduction to Jesus? What information is repeated for us in Matt. 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:2, 12, 21, 31-32?