Matthew 16 : 21 - 23, From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." NKJV
Would you like to have been in the room when Simon Peter began to rebuke Jesus openly? I would not! Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at what transpired between Simon and Jesus in the above scripture. Simon rebuked God, which tells us that Simon didn’t really respect Jesus as God, or he wouldn’t have spoken to the Lord of glory with such dishonor. Someone might say that Simon was only looking out for Jesus’ best interest because he didn’t want Jesus to have to suffer and die. However, Jesus was God in the flesh. He certainly didn’t need Simon to come to his rescue.
The point that I want to bring out is that Simon was passionate about Jesus, but not according to the Spirit. In other words, he showed great affection and feelings toward Jesus about His death. Nevertheless, his feelings weren’t based on God’s will; they were centered on Simon’s self-will or self-interest. Peter wanted to spare Jesus from death, but he didn’t care that he was being an offense to Jesus and a stumbling block to the fulfillment of God’s plan.
What is wrong with this picture? Simon certainly answered God’s calling on his life. Even so, at this point he had not yet learned the principle of denying self. In the verses of scripture that followed the account of Peter rebuking Jesus, Jesus teaches the disciples that if they want to follow Him, they must first deny self. Denying self simply means that we submit our whole hearts and lives to the teachings of Christ. Instead of allowing self to be our guide, we must allow the Holy Spirit to instruct us who we are to be in Christ and how we are supposed to act.
Simon was about to learn God’s way of developing a true passion for Christ, one that wasn’t according to Simon’s desires, but was in alignment with God’s will. In Matthew 26, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane and asked Peter, James, and John to pray for an hour with Him. Jesus distanced Himself from them and began to pray to the Father. However, after a while, Jesus came and found the three disciples asleep. He told them that their spirit was willing, but their flesh was weak. Where was Peter’s passion for Christ? Why couldn’t he find the strength and discipline to obey Jesus’ command to pray for an hour?
You see; it’s easy to serve God on our terms; nevertheless, we won’t possess the true power and authority that we need to overcome this world and its temptations. Only when we deny self, and then persevere in the Spirit will we have power over our flesh and be able to keep God’s commands in our hearts. What was Jesus attempting to teach His disciples while they were in the garden? He wanted them to realize that only through prayer and personal intimacy with the Father would they be able to honor God’s will and overcome temptation.
There’s a choice all believers must make: we can serve self-interest as Simon tried to do, or we can choose to deny self and serve God by faith. Only through a deep love for God will we find the power that is needed to crucify the flesh nature and fulfill God’s plan for our lives.
Following Jesus All the Way,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery