- Julie Branstetter
He Will Establish You
In Matthew Chapter 16 we see two stories back to back that reveal much about the way Christians can act and it isn’t always how Christ would desire. We are being molded and shaped on a daily basis, as we walk with the Lord, just like the disciples were when they walked with Him. We are sometimes no different than the double minded apostle, Simon Peter. He was the disciple with the foot shaped mouth. In verses 13-17, Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They answered Him saying, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asks Peter specifically who Peter thought Christ was and Peter said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Christ says, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." That was a ‘top of the mountain moment’, when Jesus Himself declared Peter as the leader. How awesome is it to get it right with Jesus and receive a blessing like that? Well right after Peter declares who Jesus Christ is, he begins to rebuke Jesus for that same thing. Right after calling Him the Messiah, Son of the God, Peter attempts to tell Jesus He doesn’t know what He’s talking about. Notice that right after the mountain high moment, in verses 21-28, Christ reveals to the disciples that He will suffer and die and be raised again to life. In essence, He will become the Messiah that God intended for Him to become. Simon Peter's response was to pull Jesus aside and rebuke the Lord saying, "Never, Lord!” and “This shall never happen to you!" See these disciples had it in their minds that Jesus was going to rise up at some point and become their King, and He most certainly was, but they didn’t think it would include suffering and dying first. Now the picture becomes murky and things don’t seem so cut and dry and victorious, Peter’s waffling heart wrenches inside of himself. Now think about this for a moment. In one breathe Peter is declaring that Christ is the Son of God and in the next He is rebuking Him for expressing the very will that God has placed on Christ’s life. And Peter does this because He has, in his mind, a different idea of how things are supposed to go. Peter loves Jesus and His emotions and his wrong thinking rise up and declare mutiny against God Himself. What was Jesus’ response? Christ delivers a damaging blow to this leader like no other disciple was given. And He does it to teach Peter a valuable lesson that we need to learn as well. Up to this point Jesus has referred to Peter in a few ways. He would call him Simon when He referred to His occupation, lineage, and property. This didn’t mean anything more than simply establishing who the person of who Peter was from the rest. Then at times Jesus would call Him Peter because it was who Christ wanted Peter to become. Peter means “rock” someone who is stable and firm and unmovable. Then there were times when Peter would wobble back in forth between being the rock Christ was forming and the double minded man Christ initially called to follow Him. This is when Christ would call him Simon Peter, to remind him that he was waffling. Now at this very moment Jesus gave Peter another name, one that had to make everyone cringe! Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” He called him Satan and told Him to get out of His way!! Jesus said this to the very leader of the disciples! Wow, that will make you sit down for a minute and just hush. And this is no knock to Peter in the overall because Peter was being shaped to be a leader but he needed some polish and Christ was giving to him. Peter went from being awfully double minded to being the rock Christ told him he would become. But here is the point I want to make. Peter loved Jesus so much that he allowed his own emotions and good intentions to try to stand in the way of God's will on Jesus' life. Jesus came for those express reasons, to die and be raised again so that we would have eternal life. And we do it too! And we need to be polished as well! We have to be very careful as Christians that we do not stand in the way of the calling and anointing that God has placed on other people's lives, and even our own for that matter. Sometimes we tell ourselves we can’t do things that God has expressly told us we will do. It is fear, not faith or trust, which motivates this resistance to God. It is our responsibility to encourage people (and ourselves) to follow and trust the Lord, not to nay say them down and back them up again into a quiet life of doing nothing. We avoid rippling the water because we are afraid to rock the boat. But our God is a God of getting out of the boat! When we allow our emotions, even the good ones, to speak louder than our desire for God's will to be done, we are allowing the enemy to use us to stand in His way. The enemy is very cleaver. He can even use Christians to do his bidding when they are not alert and sober to what he is doing. Sometimes it is the very ones who love us the most that resist us the most when we are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, and it is not out of faith but motivated by fear and doubt in God’s hand to sustain. If our feelings are not checked, we will allow the enemy to use us, like Peter did, to get in the way of God's will and attempt to cloak it in the form of good intention. We will resist everything that looks slightly different than what we imagined, even though the Word tells us that no eye has seen and no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” and one very great commandment of His was for us all is to go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of every nation. When Jesus bid Peter to step out of the boat, He didn’t give him the 411 on exactly what would happen next, Jesus simply said, “Come!” Peter walked on the water but in between Peter and Christ on the water, there was more to the story and Jesus allowed Peter to experience it. Jesus established his faith by removing the double mindedness of Peter in the middle of the water. When God told Abraham to pack up his family and go, the Word tells us that Abraham went out not knowing where He was going and God accounted him as faithful for it. God will reveal to us exactly what we need to know, but He will establish our faith in the things He does not reveal. We cannot be double minded, we have to have the mind of Christ and a heart for His will and to trust Him. James 1:7-8 “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” We should give God the room to establish people and give people the encouragement to follow Him as He does so.