The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional was written by Jermaine Jarrett.

Matthew 16:13-28

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah

 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'

14 They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

15 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'

16 Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'

17 Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[c] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[d] loosed in heaven.' 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Jesus predicts his death

 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.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'

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.'

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[e] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 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 they have done.

28 'Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'


Reflection

To paraphrase Bill Withers, the essence of this passage is the question "who is he and what is he to you!" Do we really know who Jesus is, and do we understand what that means? Now as then, most people probably agree that Jesus was a good man whose example may be worth following. But here the claim is far more.

He is Messiah, he is the Son of God. And it is on that very foundation that the Church stands; That Jesus is sovereign, Lord over our lives not just a wise teacher. But not only that, this same ruler chose suffering and death for our sake and we Christians, literally those who follow Christ, are invited to deny ourselves, and take up our own cross. Not trying to be a better version of ourselves, nor putting up with the normal irritations of everyday life. But surrendering our lives to him, actively seeking his glory over our own, to become more like him.

As Dietrich Boenhoeffer wrote in 'the Cost of Discipleship,' "only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes." Jesus did not put his own survival over obedience to God - "get behind me, Satan" was his response to that suggestion. He knew who he was and therefore what he had to do. Likewise, we too can only obey that call if we believe, if we know, who Jesus is.

Discipleship is not easy and its costly, but worth it if we know who we are following. And only when we truly realise that Jesus offers life itself in all its fullness, will we be able to understand that the whole world itself cannot compare. Only those who know the value of the treasure hidden in the field will gladly sell all to buy it... In the words of the old hymn; 'So I'll cherish the old rugged cross 'Til my trophies at last I'll lay down I will cling to that old rugged cross And exchange it some day for a crown

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