Summary: Obedience

Theme: Christ who accepted every human weakness

Text: Isaiah50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mk. 8:27-35

God’s Word has priority over everything else but many Christians are not prepared to accept this. This is the main reason why many Christians feel frustrated and inadequate even though they read the Bible, pray and witness for Christ. We can only experience victory in our lives when we become like Christ who accepted every human weakness to fulfil God’s will. In Mark 8:33 Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan! You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter, Jesus’ disciple, had just proclaimed Jesus’ true identity declaring, “You are the Christ.” But when he heard the cost to be paid for the revelation of God’s divine love and will for a sinful and broken world, he refused to believe it. He could not accept that Christ, who accepted every human weakness, would suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised the third day. He therefore took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. This same Peter, who a short time earlier had declared Jesus to be Lord, was now telling his Lord that He did not know what he was talking about. This sounds just like what we often do. Peter, a man like us, rebuking God implying that he knew more than God did. To Peter Jesus had to be wrong and he could not understand why Jesus was having difficulty understanding the obvious, that God would not allow Him to go through such suffering. Peter who had called him Lord refused to trust and believe His words. He chose to rely instead on his own feelings and ignored what Christ was saying. He was mindful of the things of men rather than the things of God.

To correct Peter’s misplaced concern and make His point unmistakably clear, Jesus turns to face Peter and then says, “Get behind me Satan.” Here Jesus refers to Peter as the devil, using the same words He used when He confronted the devil in the wilderness. The devils message then was that there was no need for Christ to die and Peter was here repeating that same message. Christ who accepted every human weakness focused only on God but Peter was motivated by his own desires. When Peter focused on his own desires rather than the will of God, he became a stumbling block to God. Although Peter was speaking out of genuine concern and love for the Lord, what he said was contrary to the will of God. He was actually working against God - working in league with the devil to prevent Christ from fulfilling His mission. God wants our decisions to be based on His will and not on our emotions. When we live by our feelings and these are not in accordance with the Word of God, we end up supporting the kingdom of darkness. When Peter based his decision on his emotions rather than the Word of God, he was only joining forces with the enemy. What God wants is more important than what we feel.

Acknowledging the Lordship of Christ is the beginning of a journey - an intimate relationship with Him. It is not following a set of laws, a set of beliefs, or our thoughts and emotions - it is following Christ. This journey can be compared to a marriage. In marriage we often do not know what we are getting into, where life will lead us or how we will change. The main thing, however, is committing ourselves to another person no matter what happens, whether "Sickness or health, or for better for worse". A journey also implies movement. We cannot afford to remain where we started and our movement is evidenced by growth. And as with any journey there are times when we get bored and tired and ask whether it is worthwhile. Many of us like Peter began our journey with Christ with great enthusiasm but is it the same today?

We can only keep our enthusiasm when we are focused on Christ and have in mind the things of God. Every decision we make in life either promotes the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. There are no neutral decisions in life. You are either on God’s side or on the side of the devil. The Scriptures teach us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Accepting Jesus Christ as our lord is to submit totally to Him. True commitment means no turning back even at the risk of death. It means denying ourselves and becoming like Christ who accepted every human weakness. To deny yourself is to say no to something you really want. It is willing to say no to your preferences in obedience to God. It is pleasing God alone and no one else. If you really want something and God says no, your response should also be no. Every person is given the opportunity to deny himself and take up his cross. To Charles Simpson “Your cross is where your will and the will of God cross.” Your cross is not your wife or your husband. Neither is it your child or a disease. Your cross is the place where you can make the decision not to please yourself but to please God. As a Christians our will should mirror the will of God.

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