God's good plan — from the very beginning
“From that time on (after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah), Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Matthew 16:21-23
Peter, ever close to Jesus, seems to be the disciple that opens his mouth before he thinks about what he is saying. Can you relate? The problem in this case is that Peter’s thoughts and ways are not Jesus’ thoughts and ways. Jesus is fixed on Jerusalem, knowing what lies ahead for him, and this is not news that Peter wants to hear!
Peter is a good representative of us. One moment Peter is confessing a rock-solid faith in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and being praised for his faith. The next, he is a stumbling block, wanting things his own way. One moment Peter is just and right and good; one moment he is a sinner. We are the same.
Martin Luther called this “simul justus et peccator,” that is, simultaneously JUST and SINNER. In and of ourselves we are sinners, STUMBLING BLOCKS, not unlike Peter. We desire our own way. We want things the way we want them!
But by our faith in Jesus, who willingly suffered and died on a cross for every one of us who believe, in order to free us from sin, death and the devil, we are looked upon by God as JUST, as RIGHT. Our Almighty, Living God sees you who believe through the filter of his Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly suffered and died on the cross to “save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Jesus is moving into the journey to Jerusalem, to the cross, with the shadow of death looming ever closer – and this is precisely God’s plan for your salvation!
Peter did not want to see Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, whom Peter loved, suffer and die. He could not possibly understand all that Jesus would accomplish in doing so. Peter heard Jesus say that he “… must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering … and be killed …” But Peter seems to have missed the very best part: “… and on the third day be raised.”
You are blessed by knowing the whole story that Peter lived through – you know that the suffering and death inflicted on Jesus was intended for evil – for nothing but harm, but that God intended it from the very beginning for good. God’s plan was put into place to bring about life – abundant life – for you and for all who believe.