The Things of God – Matthew 16:21-23

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”
Matthew 16:21-23

For Peter, the situation described was unthinkable – that Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God and the promised Savior of God’s people, would go to Jerusalem to be killed. He refused it outright. Because how could that be what was supposed to happen? Death? Defeat? Never. That could never be the plan for the Messiah.

With all of Peter’s passion and zeal, he didn’t yet understand that to accomplish God’s purposes, Jesus’ death – and resurrection – was required.

God’s desire went deeper than a physical conquering of Israel’s oppressors. God desired, and desires still, to draw all people to Himself (John 12:32). His purpose is to make peace through the blood of Jesus’ cross, to unite and reconcile to Himself all things (Colossians 1:20, Ephesians 1:9-10). Jesus came to this earth to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Not to be served, but to serve and to give His life willingly as a ransom for many – for all who would believe in Him (Mark 10:45). He came to set us free from the power of sin and take our iniquity away from us, securing forever the forgiveness for our sins and redemption of our souls, that we may live for Him in the beautiful freedom of righteousness, to the glory of God our Father.

How often do we respond like Peter when faced with circumstances beyond our comprehension, adamantly rejecting the idea that God could will something far outside of what makes sense to us? We become focused on this temporary life so easily, we likely don’t even realize we’ve set our minds on the things of man rather than the things of God.

May this passage, and the knowledge of God’s plan through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, be a gentle and powerful reminder that the things of God are always deeper and greater than we can see. He sees it all. Even in the worst, most painful situations, our God is here, He loves us greatly, and He is working in the details. To bring us to Him, to purify our hearts, to strengthen our faith, to deepen our joy, and to magnify His grace.

At the core of it all, we can see His heart:

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.”

Isaiah 45:22

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