Monday, January 23, 2012


Salvation is bound up in a right understanding regarding the person and work of Christ. Declaring and defending these truths is at the heart of Biblical Christianity. Such was the nature of the preaching of the Apostle Paul:

• “But we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
• “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

There are no more important questions that these: 1) Who is Jesus? 2) Why did He come? These were questions that both confronted and confounded the Apostle Peter. Jesus asked His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter responded with the correct response “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and was richly commended: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:17). “Blessed are you, Simon!” God has revealed to you this glorious truth! Note how Peter had entered into this blessed estate. He did not “figure it out.” God’s higher thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) are not “figured out” by men, they are revealed to man by God (Matthew 11:25-27). Happy is the man to whom God has revealed Himself! Salvation is bound up in it. The many miracles of Jesus bore witness of His true identify (John 20:30-31)—that sinners would affirm what Peter declared in order that they might saved.

Peter was not so “blessed” in responding to the second question. “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” (Matthew 16:21). Jesus was born to die. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He came “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The cross was His God-given destiny. But Peter didn’t understand these truths then. “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).

On a future day, following Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter would stand before thousands and boldly proclaim what he then could not comprehend (Acts 2:22-24). But on this occasion his confusion led to a sharp rebuke: “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:22). The Father had revealed Christ’s identity to Peter, but not yet His plan. He knew who Jesus was, but not the purpose for which He came. Jesus responded to Peter in the same manner he responded to anything else that would work to deter Him from His purpose: “Get behind me, Satan!” From the pinnacle of Christ’s affirmation Peter plummeted to the depths of rebuke. Christ diagnosed Peter’s problem this way: “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23; Cf. Isaiah 55:5-9).

Peter’s confusion regarding Christ’s purpose is shared by most. The cross is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). Many are glad to affirm Jesus the good man or good teacher—but when it comes to His cross, they falter. They cannot comprehend it. They don’t like it. It is an offense to them. All of God’s glorious attributes are made manifest at the cross (1 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 3:16). It serves as the sole basis of salvation. Throughout eternity we will praise Christ for His work on the cross (Revelation 5:12). But a mind set on the things of man lacks the vision to apprehend its glory. These truths are Spirit-revealed.

The revelation of God’s purpose in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection would come later to Peter. Ultimately he gave his life declaring and defending the truth he had previously decried. The glory of the cross compelled him to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship (Matthew 16:24-27).

Who is Jesus? Why did He come? Great questions! It is by the Spirit of God alone that we enabled to comprehend these truths regarding the person and work of Christ (John 16:14). A great transition of opinion takes place in the heart of the new believer as he is Spirit-led to comprehend the glory of the cross. Galatians 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Do you glory in the cross?

O that old rugged cross,
So despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction to me;
For the dear Lamb of God
Left His glory above
To bear it to dark calvary.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Pastor Jerry

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