This was not an issue of the ego of Jesus needing boosting. This was an opportunity for everyone to review what place they were at in their relationship with Him.
I’m referring to an episode recorded in Matthew 16. It’s just Jesus and His disciples and He asks them about what others say about Him. The responses vary reflecting the diverse views people had about Him all suggesting that He was special, but never quite hitting the sweet spot of getting His true identity. Once that survey is taken, Jesus then asks the disciples themselves to offer their view on who He is.
Simon Peter is the one who gets the bullseye.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus affirms this and goes as far as to say this understanding would not have come from any other source than the divine. The Father in heaven had made this plain to Peter. This was an exciting time for them as they heard Jesus outline some developments that would take place as a result of this revelation. You can imagine a degree of intrigue and fascination about church being built where not even the gates of Hades would prevent its growth. As well as intrigued by the whole keys to the Kingdom promise.
So the disciples are on a high – they have heard for themselves that Jesus is no ordinary man and is not the return of a special man from the past. No, Jesus is the Messiah.
As they absorb that information, Jesus goes on to outline His mission. Four steps – go to Jerusalem; suffer a lot from the religious rulers of the day; be killed; return from the dead after three days.
That did not fit the expectation of the Messiah. The same Peter who confidently proclaimed the identity, is the same Peter who discreetly looks to rebuke Jesus for this kind of talk. Jesus, rather than responding as discreetly, calls out the view of the adversary. Here was a clear opposition to the mission and it was coming from the opposite to the divine revelation from the Father.
Ther is so much to consider reading this episode. One of the aspects that I appreciated was how Jesus was able to stay on point with His mission. Jesus knew His mission so well that He was concerned not to be thwarted from it even from the best intentions of one of his closer disciples. For Jesus it was all about having the mind of the Father, rather than being taken up with the mind of men.
Jesus remained on mission by staying in touch with the mind of the Father. His mind was on the things of God. Just as He was able to defeat the adversary when tempted three times, so now again He could see the ploy for what it was. An effort to take His mind off heavenly things to consider worldly issues.
It’s arresting for me to see this, because it then gets me to consider carefully if my mind is on things of the Father or on things of man. Am I really focused on the mission that God has given me? Am I focused to the point that even if rational, well-meaning reasoning should seek to get me off track, would I be alert to it and ward off the scheme of the adversary?
Having my mind on the things of God suggests a preference to spend time on Him. Knowing Him, getting an understanding of the things that are important to Him. It is worship. It is praise. It is also the active engagement in the heavenly dialogue to hear Him outline what’s important to Him and keep my mind stayed on Him.
With that, I should be in a better position to pick up on approaches that would bring me away from the mission He has set for me.
Evidently from this episode in the life of Jesus, even after exhilarating moments of clarity and revelation we can be susceptible to missing the point of the mission. Making it all the more important to remain focused.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden