We, like people before us, change God’s word to suit us and that makes us hypocrites. Liberalism, like the legalism of other times, is dull because it only teaches us what we already know, what we already want to believe, what we declare is acceptable to God. But, knowing God is more costly than we think, it requires us to see who Jesus is clearly. The Son of God who goes to the cross for us and calls us to follow him asks for our trust. We may prefer Jesus the victor or Jesus the therapist but what we are given is Jesus the sacrifice.
Matthew 16.1-28 | Time to decide
We want simple answers
But life is not simple
God is more hidden than some think
Simple answers to big questions do more harm than we think
Knowing God is more costly than we think
For further thought
Q: In verses 1-4 Jesus implies that God is hidden. What makes God difficult to find?
Q: What signs of God does our culture regularly ignore?
Q: Jesus warns his disciples about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Looking overt chapters 12 to 16, what are the features of their teaching? How do those features re-emerge in the life of the church?
Q: Matthew brackets the beginning and end of Jesus’ public ministry by confrontations with Satan (4.1-11 & 16.21-23). The second temptation is powerful as it comes in the guise of a friend, his first disciple, Peter, just as Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem to face the cross. Why has Peter so misread what sort of Messiah the Son of Man, the Son of God is?
Q: Why do so many in our day invent their own versions of Jesus?
Q: In verses 24-28, Jesus points out his followers will need to bear their own cross; that is, controversies and alienation from others as they follow the misunderstood Jesus. What are you bearing?
Q: Verses 17-20 have inspired many books as they have been used by the Roman Catholic Church to justify the primacy of the Pope as Peter’s successor. When we compare these verses here to 18.18-20 we learn that though the New Testament shows Peter to be the first apostle, he is the first amongst equals and the authority Jesus gave was not his alone but belongs to the church. There is nothing in this text that justifies succession, the primacy of the Roman church or Papal infallibility. For examples of binding and loosing of people able to enter the King of heave see Peter in Acts 2, 5, 8.9-25, 10. For Peter’s joint leaderships and fallibility see: Acts 15, Galatians 2:11-21.