Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's uncomfortable for you as well. I'm talking about when someone you love and care about, maybe a friend, a family member, a co-worker, and they betray you—they stab you in the back or they say something hurtful about you. Over the years, this has happened all too many times and I've learned to deal with it in a certain way. I want to share that with you today. It's dealing with it by separating the person from their sin.
We see this modeled by Jesus in Matthew 16:13. Matthew writes this: "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'"
In that moment, Jesus really commends Peter for that. He prophetically shares what's going to play out in Peters's life as the church unfolds. What we see here is that Jesus replied with the following to Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." So Peter listened for the voice of God. God revealed something to Peter and he listened. He had that seed planted in his mind and he proclaimed that truth back to Jesus.
Just a few short verses later, though, we see a completely different story after Jesus commends Peter. We pick up in verse 21: "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!'"
Are you nuts, Peter? You don't do that! Can you imagine if Peter prevented Jesus from going to the cross? I don't even want to think about that. But I'm glad that this is what Jesus did. We see in 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." And so we see here, Jesus rebukes Peter, but did He actually call Peter Satan? I mean, it sure sounded like He did. He knew Peters's name and we know that that was not Peter's nickname. So what's really going on there? Did Jesus call Peter Satan? I think the answer is no. I think what Jesus was doing was that He was speaking to Satan through Peter; He was speaking to Satan through Peter. There's an enemy that works behind each of us and that enemy is Satan. He's trying to trip us up. He's trying to tempt us. He's trying to get our sinful nature to act out on the temptations that he plants for us. So what Jesus did here is He modeled separation.
You see, Jesus separated the real Peter—the one that wanted to listen and obey the Lord— from the one that desires to listen and follow the kingdom of Satan. So here's the ugly truth. This not only happens to people around us who say and do things to us. This happens to us, as well. This idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us has been helping me in dealing with relational issues. It's opened up my eyes and it's helped me to take ownership when I'm the one who has sinned. It's helped me to truly forgive people when they have sinned against me.
So I want to encourage you to learn and understand that there is an evil force that often works behind us trying to trip us all up. Why do we have relational issues? Well, oftentimes, I think it's because we, instead of listening for the voice of God like Peter did at the beginning of this story, we end up following the voice of Satan and giving in to temptation.
Let's pray. Father, I want to thank you for this idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us. Help us to understand that there is an enemy that wants to trip us up and get us to screw up our relationships and screw up our faith. So Father, help us to recognize that when we open our mouth and when we act, let us take responsibility and ownership when we make the mistake of following Satan instead of following you, Father, and let us be quick to forgive those around us Father who do the same. Father, help us to encourage one another, as we forgive one another Father, and we thank you for this and we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Thanks for joining us today. Don't just have a great day, but go and make a great day!