Summary: Looks at how Jesus was faithful to His mission and how we are to do the same.
Let me pose a hypothetical situation to you this morning: Let’s say I was to make an offer to you. I would offer to give you two free plane tickets to anywhere in the world. Would you take it? Well, there’s one catch – what if I didn’t tell you where you were going before you got on the plane? You wouldn’t know where you were going until the plane touched down wherever I sent you. NOW how many are willing to take me up on this? Nobody? Well, I guess we like to know where we’re going before we go there. And that’s not a bad thing. I sincerely believe that we should be going through life with a purpose and an idea of where we want to go in life and what we want to do with what God’s given us. Unfortunately, too many people aren’t doing this. Many people are just kind of wandering through life aimlessly, without any sense of purpose, going wherever the tide takes them. They don’t have any idea of where they want to go, so how will they know when they get there?
On the other hand, we as believers are called to live lives that are filled with a sense of mission and purpose. We have been called to a radical obedience that will compel us forward to the completion of our mission. Please turn to Matthew 16…
JESUS UNDERSTOOD HIS MISSION (v. 21)
Up until this point in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been doing some wonderful things. He has given a powerful sermon on the mount, he has taught the people new and wonderful things, he has healed the sick, made the deaf to hear and the blind to see, and has even raised the dead to life. And while these things were necessary for Him to do, they were not His ultimate mission. While these signs had led Peter to declare that Jesus was the Messiah (v. 16), it was now time to define what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah. The disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ true purpose because of their preconceived notions about what the Messiah should be. While they may have understood that He was the Messiah, they needed to prepare to follow Him and to be loyal to Him as he suffered and died. So Jesus began teaching clearly and specifically what they could expect so that they would not be surprised when it happened.
Contrary to what they thought, Jesus had not come to set up an earthly kingdom. He would not be the conquering Messiah that they were looking for because He first had to suffer many things and be killed. For any human king, death would be the end, but not so for Jesus. Death would only be the beginning, because on the third day He would be raised to life.
This was what Jesus had come to earth for. He had come to redeem a sinful people. This had been God’s plan since the beginning of time. If you read through the Old Testament, there are many prophecies that point to this. Psalm 118 speaks of the stone that the builders reject that will become the cornerstone, while Isaiah 53 speaks of the suffering servant by whose wounds we will be healed. But God also knew that this suffering would lead to ultimate glory, and we see this prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14…
The point is, God had a plan from day one, and Jesus was very careful about sticking to His mission. It would have been easy for him to get sidetracked in His mission – He could have just spent the rest of His life going around healing people and raising the dead. Every day would have been a banquet with Him around! He could have lived a good and easy life and avoided all of this suffering. But Jesus understood His mission and why it was necessary for Him to carry it through, and so He continued it. And in the same way, when we have been called by God to carry out a certain task or ministry, we must also pursue it with this determination. And sometimes that will mean ignoring negative influences around us.
JESUS IGNORED PETER’S REBUKE (V. 22-23)
After hearing these words, Peter was overtaken by the tragic thought of Jesus’ suffering and death. He completely ignored the triumphant ending of His resurrection. He had just realized that Jesus was the central figure toward whom all history pointed. And suddenly, there was all this talk about the Messiah enduring suffering and death. Peter had never considered this aspect of the Messiah. He had only been able to see the triumphant side of the prophecies.
And so Peter took Jesus aside and said “Never!” In the Greek, the word that is translated as “never” means “may God be gracious to you.” Peter’s rebuke wasn’t out of opposition, but rather it was out of concern for His master. He was trying to protect Jesus from the suffering that He had prophesied. But if Jesus hadn’t suffered and died, Peter would have died in his sins. This is why it was necessary for Jesus to ignore Peter’s attempt at detracting from His mission.