“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
When I was a child, I can remember once holding up a piece of red glass to my eyes and looking through it with childhood wonder at how everything was then red.....
Looking at the verses above, on the surface we have to wonder if this is even possible, or if we understand it, or if our understanding of it is somehow “colored.” We also have to wonder if the first to hear these words understood them either.
Jesus spoke these words at Caesarea Philippi. Before speaking them,
Jesus asked His disciples who people said He was. They told Him. Then He asked them who they say He is. With no hesitation, Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Way to go Peter! God revealed that truth him. Jesus thus commended him.
What happened next was like rain on a parade. When Peter objected to Jesus’ explanation of what would soon happen to Him, Jesus had to rebuke Peter because his understanding of Messiah was extremely limited and incorrect. His understanding of Messiah was like seeing everything through red glass – it was colored by his culture. The culture he grew up in saw the Messiah as a strong, powerful, kingly, military ruler who would destroy the enemies of Israel and re-establish the Davidic kingdom. That view colored Peter’s understanding. Jesus said that he was concerned about the things of man, not about the things of God.
We would like to think we have progressed beyond where Peter was. Do you think we have? We may have more of a post-resurrection understanding that is more informed, but the real litmus test is: Are we more concerned about the things of God than we are about the things of man? Are we more concerned about the lostness of humanity than we are about houses, lands, cars, money, church buildings, and so on? None of these are bad things at all in and of themselves. How we approach them or relate to them or value them in comparison with what was important to Jesus provides a standard by which we can determine if we have made real progress in our understanding of the things of God.
Lord, Through Your Spirit within us, please remove anything that discolors the reality You want us to see. Help us to see the truths You want drive us. Amen.