Summary: Peter had some trials to prepare him for his future ministry in the church.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TRIALS AND TRIBULATION
TEXT: MATTHEW 16.21-23
We continue to study the life of Peter. Remember that Jesus had called, and Peter left all behind in order to become a follower. You will also recall where just prior to our text, Jesus gives out the mission for His disciples to complete. Peter has just made such a profound declaration, for he had just declared that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus is beginning to tell them that He is going to have to die. Had He told them this when they were called, they most likely would not have followed Him. It seems that Jesus is now beginning to fully explain the real reason that He has come earth. This reason was to die for the sins of man. This was to fulfill what John told them in 1.29, when he said “. . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Those who heard the statement by John possibly did not know the full extent of what the statement meant, but He was that spotless lamb sent from God. They knew what the purpose of a lamb was for, but they could not connect that with the Messiah. Jesus had alluded to his death on previous occasions, but in vague terminology. However, now He seems to be explaining in more detail what will happen to Him in Jerusalem.
One will notice in reading this historical story, that Peter does not like what Jesus is saying. He will then rebuke Jesus. Jesus will reply with some stern words for Peter. These words are ones that Peter will not a want to hear. Peter had been called to be a follower, and had been given a mission. In order for Peter to complete the mission that he had given, he would have to face some trials. These trials would be a time of preparation for him.
We also have to go through trials, in order to help prepare us for our mission. Just
remember that a Navy Seal does not become one overnight, but has to go through a rigorous training with hardships and trials. My desire in this message is that we will be able to understand, as we look at the life of Peter, that many times we have to go through trials in order to help prepare us for the work ahead. These help to build us and create a better character in us. In order to get gold, it must go through the fire. That is what creates the purity and beauty.
Let us turn our attention to the story as Peter and Jesus exchange words.
1. THE TIME IS ALMOST HERE
Jesus begins to explain to His disciples that He would suffer and die. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8.31). Jesus had spent a considerable amount of time proving to His disciples that He was Messiah. It seems that Peter fully understood when we hear his answer to the question, “. . . But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16.15).
Now Jesus begins to change focus, for He begins to explain in greater detail His reason for coming to this earth. That reason was in order to die for the salvation of mankind. He was showing them that He was going to be that suffering Messiah which Isaiah had prophesied about. It seems now that Jesus’ eyes are set toward Jerusalem and the cross. One must wonder if the disciples were expecting a king that would set up an earthly kingdom. But now Jesus was telling them that he is going to die. How would He be able to set up this kingdom? Dead kings do not rule over empires. They did not fully understand what this Messiah was all about.
Jesus explains to them that He will die at the hands of the religious rulers of Israel. He then goes on to explain to them that He will rise again on the third day. Possibly one reason Jesus tells them not to tell anyone that he was Messiah is that it could have changed things. If the people truly knew that He was the Messiah, they may not have pressed so hard for Him to be crucified. Instead they possibly would have tried to make Him an earthly king, in order to drive out the Romans. This would have destroyed the plans of God. For the main purpose, of Jesus coming at this time, was not to set up an earthly kingdom, but to make preparations for mankind