This article is adapted from a sermon preached by Adam Brock entitled With the End in Mind
Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? You know, said something embarrassing?
I remember a line from my dad’s favorite TV show, The Andy Griffith Show, where Andy asks, “How could that foot, all of it, fit in my mouth!?”
Well in scripture we find an example of Peter, putting his size 13 sandals, right into his open mouth!
This example is found in Matthew 16:21-23.
This is a short passage that is surrounded by some great passages, so I hope you’re making the most of our reading plan, 27 in 22, and studying the context as a whole!
Although this passage is short, there are some important things we need to discuss and some life-changing truths that I believe God wants to reveal to you through His Word! Namely, that we should live life, with the end in mind!
Here’s what the scripture says in Matthew 16 verses 21-23:
“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, 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. 'Never, 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 concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'”Matthew 16:21-23 (NIV)
As always, we come to scripture with the intent of taking from the text both the meaning and the application for our lives! We don’t come to the Word of God having already decided what it means or with a heart unwilling to submit to it. We must come with humility, wanting to hear from the Lord.
In verse 21 Jesus says that “He must go.” In other translations, it might say “It was necessary.” This verse has a very strong tone about it and Jesus says unequivocally, I have a mission. I must go.
The word translated “must” is the word “dei,” which meant moral necessity. Jesus knew there was a divine plan for His life and ministry, and it affected every aspect of His life. How He spent His time, where He went, what He said, what He did, all of it was influenced by the reality that He was on a mission!
Is that how you live your life?
Do you have a sense of what you must do?
As a Christ-follower we’ve been given a purpose and a mission that should determine for us how we spend our lives. Jesus knew full well that He was born so that He might die.
There is a Christmas song by the group Shane & Shane, simply titled “Born to Die.
”When the babe was born, In a manger on the hay
God saw a veil torn, He saw Good Friday
He was born to die
Gold laid before the Christ, Incense, His presence is sweet
Myrrh to signify Victory over death's sting
He was born to die
It came in a dream, To Joseph late one night
That Herod sought the King, But could not take His life
He was born to die
He said, "You don't take my life, You won't take my life, You don't take my life
I lay it down"
We came here today, To celebrate His birth
But let us not forget, Why Jesus came to earth
He was born to die
And his death would be a gruesome one. Jesus as "the Lamb of God" would in fact become a sacrifice for sin. But the disciples were not prepared for this truth. It was not in their first-century Jewish notions about the Messiah. The rabbis emphasized the coming of the Messiah as an act of judgment and military triumph — what they were not expecting was the suffering servant described in Isaiah 53 to be the Messiah.
I think this is why Peter rebukes Jesus in the next verse. He can’t imagine that the promised Messiah would suffer and be killed.
This same idea is articulated well by the two on the road to Emmaus, which you can read about in Luke 24. In that account, the Resurrected Jesus comes to the two and asks what they are talking about. They don’t recognize Jesus and their reply is:“19 “What things?” He asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him;21 but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.”
(Luke 24:19-21 (NIV))If only they had known to whom they were speaking and the irony of the statement, for it was precisely through his death that He did redeem them.
Jesus knew what he must do, and he knew the price to be paid. And I’m here to tell you, that in Jesus, you and I have been given a purpose that is way bigger than any one of us.
Now the latter part of the verse reads like this: “and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Make no mistake: Jesus was no mere teacher, He was more than a healer, He was more than an example and a friend, Jesus came as the Savior of the World and that salvation would be accomplished through His death and resurrection!
Peter reveals to us in the next verse that he did not understand the significance of the cross, and I’m here to say we too are often guilty of not seeing how truly central the cross is.
Today a cross is recognized as a symbol of religion and it’s also aesthetically pleasing. We use it as décor and as a centerpiece. No one looks at a piece of jewelry with a cross and thinks that it’s grotesque and disgusting. But in the first century, a cross was a torture tool of the Roman Empire. It was associated with pain, death, and shame! It was the most painful and degrading form of capital punishment in the ancient world. The Greeks and Romans at first reserved the punishment only for slaves, saying it was too barbaric for freeborn or citizens. By the first century, however, it was used for any enemy of the state, though citizens could only be crucified by the direct edict of Caesar. As time went on, the Romans began to use crucifixion more and more as a deterrent to criminal activity, so that by Jesus’ time it was a common sight. A person crucified in Jesus’ day was first beaten with a whip with pieces of metal or bone attached to the end. This was not done just out of cruelty but was designed to hasten death and lessen the terrible ordeal. After the beating, the victim was forced to bear the crossbeam to the execution site to signify that life was already over and to break their will to live.
A tablet detailing the crime was often placed around the criminal’s neck and then fastened to the cross. At the site, the prisoner was often tied or nailed to the crossbeam. The nail would be driven through the wrist rather than the palm since the smaller bones of the hand could not support the weight of the body. The beam with the body was then lifted and tied to the already affixed upright pole. Pins or a small wooden block were placed halfway up to provide a seat for the body lest the nails tear open the wounds, or the ropes force the arms from their sockets. Finally, the feet were tied or nailed to the post. Death was caused by the loss of blood circulation and coronary failure. Especially if the victims were tied, it could take days of hideous pain as the extremities turned slowly gangrenous; so often the soldiers would break the victims’ legs with a club, causing massive shock and a quick death. Such deaths were usually done in public places, and the body was left to rot for days.
Here’s what we must remember, we deserve that level of punishment. Our sins deserve that death. Yet, Jesus stepped in and took that beating, that torture, that humiliation, so for all that would trust in him, we wouldn’t have to go through that!
The cross is the centerpiece of our faith for a reason. Because upon it, the crucified savior accomplished the promised redemption. At the cross, it was finished! The wrath of God was fully satisfied because the pure and spotless Christ died in our place.
This was Jesus’ purpose. To make a way, when there was no way.
Now let’s look at verse 22. Here I want you to see the error revealed. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22). Although the disciples grasped the fact that Jesus was God’s Messiah, as evidenced by Peter’s confession in verse 16, their error was in not understanding what that meant.How do you respond when following Jesus doesn’t go the way you expected it would?
This was the lesson Peter was learning in real-time. He had left everything to follow Jesus and had committed his life to Jesus. His fate and his future were bound with Jesus, so if Jesus is headed to die, that means Peter probably was too. And he let Jesus know his displeasure with the plan.
Now as we look at Peter, I hope all this leads us toward humility. Why? Because none of us have arrived.
Peter gets such a great attaboy in the verses leading up to this. More than that he gets publicly affirmed and commissioned as an integral part of the future mission of Jesus. And then in the next breath, he’s put his foot in his mouth again!
As much spiritual progress that you’ve made over the course of your life there will be times when, like Peter, we just do something worthy of a facepalm! If you’re new to faith, we want you to know this is a reality for even the most seasoned saint in the room. We all progress in our faith slowly and with the propensity to stumble, therefore none of us have any room for boasting or pride.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall.” (NASB)
But even though Peter’s error was great, he still belonged to the Lord. Our God is not waiting for you to mess up so that he can kick you to the curb. He’s gracious, even when we continue to fall.“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 (NASB)) It’s hard to believe that the same person who rightly confesses Jesus as Christ is now the one rebuking Jesus and doing so completely in the wrong.
Before we move past this, I want to mention humility one more time. We’ve been rescued from the penalty of sin and the power of sin, but we still live in a world where sin is a reality. Therefore, what sin are we not capable of making? The answer is we are capable of great error and great sin if we ever believe that we have outgrown our need for a savior. That’s why we sing:
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”
We are capable of great error, yet by God’s grace, we are saved. I love that the Bible is full of these negative examples for us. We are called to perfection, that’s God’s standard, but the way in which we achieve it is through the righteousness of Christ. You will not be able to achieve perfection. The biblical witness is that when this happens you will get corrected, but not cast out.
Now, look at verse 23. Here I want us to see the correction given. 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.” (Matthew 16:23) These words of Jesus sound harsh and they are meant to convey the seriousness of the moment. But they are also filled with mercy. Peter, who moments before spoke a revelation from God, now speaks temptation from Satan. This was the same temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness, to bypass the cross. In this context, Peter was Satan’s spokesman. And when Jesus rebukes Peter, he uses the name “Satan” and not Peter. This is a rightful rebuke but not a banishment. He doesn’t throw Peter aside, and thankfully he doesn’t throw us aside every time we have a blunder of our own!
We know this to be true because in the next chapter (Matthew 17) we find Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up on the mountain for the Transfiguration. He wasn’t done with Peter, far from it.
The harshness and severity of Jesus’ response show us that this topic is of the utmost importance! What exactly is of the highest importance? The salvation that Jesus would earn for humanity upon the cross!
Key to life is the doctrine of atonement. Atonement is a word that means to cover, and it carries with it the idea that through the cross our sins have been covered. The price paid. Without the cross, we would have no hope of forgiveness.
Like we’ve always said, we have an enemy.
He’s real and his goal is to destroy. He hates gospel ministry because he knows anywhere the cross is preached, that men and women, boys and girls, will step out of darkness and into light. It is through the gospel that the spiritually dead are reborn. That’s not just an abstract thought, that’s something I’ve experienced and many of you as well. That’s something that we have been celebrating through the symbol of baptism. God is at work in the Lake Area, and he’s chosen, by his grace, to include us in the plan. We have the chance to be used by God to see people’s lives transformed forever.
Don’t lose sight of that or take it for granted. We must keep the main thing, the main thing. Let it make you diligent in prayer. Praying continuously for opportunities to share the gospel, praying for the unity and mission of this church, prayers for me that I would stand faithfully each week to preach the gospel, and prayers for Pastor Steve as he leads this church to fulfill the mission that God has given us.
We are at war! We must pray!
Paul committed to preach only Jesus and His crucifixion, “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NIV))
That’s the commitment of Trinity. That’s my commitment to you. Jesus Christ and His crucifixion!
To get this wrong is to be lost forever. Paul said that if the resurrection didn’t happen, we are to be most pitied. He also said in 1 Corinthians that the very thing Jesus predicts in verse 21 is the most important thing.“ Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”(1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (NIV))
I love that Paul mentions Peter here in this letter, Cephas is another name for Peter. Again, we see that despite his ignorance and mistake, the correction Jesus gave was intended to restore, not remove.
Let’s look once more at the text: verse 23 – “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.” The ESV translates the last part like this: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
As we consider what God is calling us to do and be, as a result of this passage, we must resolve to set our mind on God.
What was Peter's mistake? He was thinking like a man, for most men want to escape suffering and death. He did not have God in mind. Where do we find the mind of God? In the word of God.
That’s why our emphasis on being shaped by the Word this year through 27 in 22 is so vital. Because only by having the mind of God will we be free from not just the mind of man, but the fear of man.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (NIV)
Fear of man can drive us to elevate the opinions and desires of fellow creatures, instead of focusing on what the creator has called us to be and do. God is calling us, in the way of Jesus, to live our lives with the end in mind.
Jesus knew His purpose and His mission. Because He understood this clearly, He was decisive about how He spent his time and resources. We must follow this example.
If you are not currently consumed with the mission of the cross, then let’s renew our minds today so that each moment we find ourselves in its shadow. And if you’ve never come to the cross and experienced the redemption and salvation that was predicted by Jesus in this passage and then later accomplished by Jesus, then today is the day for you to respond.
As it says in Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”
Won’t you make today the day that you turned from your life of sin and came to Jesus for saving?
If you’re wondering if this is for real and for you, my invitation is for you to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” Today could be your day of salvation. If you wish to learn more and be a part of this reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 337-480-1555.
What appeared to be the greatest tragedy the world has ever known was in actuality the greatest victory the world had ever seen.