Summary: The enemy of our souls tries to snatch away the words of our confessions of faith while they are still in our mouths, robbing us of our newly received blessing.
TROUBLE AT A PLACE OF REVELATION
The place was Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13): a place of revelation, and a place of decision. Which of two realms will we choose? Which of two religions? Who is it that we are following?
Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). It is our personal decision that matters, not everybody else’s (Matthew 16:14). Surely Simon Peter spoke for us all, when he said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16).
Ah - but we cannot know such things without the revelation of the Father in heaven. ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonas’ - for the Lord revealing such a remarkable thing to you (Matthew 16:17). Hereafter you shall be known as Peter, a piece of a rock - and upon this Rock (Greek = ‘Petra’) the Lord will build His church (Matthew 16:18; cf. Ephesians 2:20).
After giving the church the power of the keys, of binding and of loosing (Matthew 16:19), Jesus then instructed His disciples not to broadcast this revelation (Matthew 16:20). The time was not yet right. Other things had to happen before Jesus would take up his crown.
1. The Lord foretold His passion (Matthew 16:21-23).
However, we are so slow to receive it that He had to repeat it at least twice (Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:17-19). Even for Jesus there is no crown without the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). For us, too, the path to glory is via the death - and resurrection - of Jesus.
The way of the Cross grates so, that men will hardly receive it. Peter, who had so recently made confession of faith, found the notion unpalatable. The enemy of our souls tries to snatch away the words of our confessions of faith while they are still in our mouths, robbing us of our newly received blessing.
Peter was speaking as a man. The one who had so recently experienced the blessing of things revealed to him by God, now stood under the stern rebuke due to the devil. This became the platform for further teaching.
2. Following in the way of the Cross (Matthew 16:24-26).
Paradoxically, the path of life is through death and resurrection. We must die to self: to the world, the flesh and the devil. Then we shall rise to new life in Christ Jesus. This finds outward expression in the symbolism of our baptism.
The teaching is rounded off by showing that the disciples and their contemporaries were not wrong to expect that the Lord would come to receive a crown: but that they had the timing all wrong. Messiah was not come to overthrow the Romans, but to set up His kingdom in the hearts of His people.
Yet the benefits of this transaction are not just for the here and now, but also for the hereafter.
3. This links with Jesus’ future coming in glory (Matthew 16:27-28).
Yet there would come such a time, when He would appear in His glory with all His holy angels, and reward every man according to his works. The question will then be: did these works arise out of a pure heart, full of faith?
Matthew 16:28 does hint that there would be some anticipation of this great event in the meantime. This may refer to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2), or to the fall of Jerusalem. The coming of the kingdom was also anticipated in the Cross, and more particularly the resurrection (Matthew 16:21).
Yet in the lifetime of some of those standing there, another manifestation of the kingdom of God would also be seen at Pentecost…