DAILY DEVOTIONAL – June 25, 2021
“A Disciple’s Discipline”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, how can we ever question Your love for us. As we behold Jesus on the cross, we know that Your grace and forgiveness is real and complete. As we behold the empty tomb, we know that You alone have the power to save us. Lord, help us grow in this faith that is our only hope and salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 16:21-23
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Devotional – “A Disciple’s Discipline”
Peter was zealous for His Lord and Teacher, and when He heard Jesus say that the religious scribes and Pharisees wanted and threatened to kill Him, Peter would have none of it.
Isn’t that the reaction we would expect a disciple to have? Well, yes, but that in and of itself is the problem. Our expectations. Peter’s expectations were the problem. In Peter’s mind, the Messiah and Savior of God could never be so easily defeated and certainly would not willingly allow Himself to be killed by wicked men. Furthermore, (and more to the heart of why Jesus responded as He did in calling Peter, Satan) Peter didn’t want Jesus to die because that would mean that Peter, the disciples, and the rest of the Jewish nation wouldn’t get what they wanted, which was earthly power and prosperity. They wanted Jesus to use His mighty power to overthrow the Romans who oppressed them and reestablish the dominance of the Jewish nation.
In short, Peter’s noble intentions were a veil for his self-serving agenda, and that put him at odds with the will of God, which was not to establish an earthly kingdom but to sacrifice His only Son Jesus on the cross for the sins of mankind so that all who believe and put their faith in Christ may inherit the true, heavenly Kingdom of God for all of eternity. For this to happen, God’s Messiah had to come not as the conqueror of men, but as the conqueror of sin and death and Satan Himself who only desires to overthrow the Kingdom of God.
I think the words of Lutheran theologian Martin Franzmann provide a good description of what we see happening here with Peter, and why the discomfort of this passage is so appropriate for our day and age. What we see happening in Peter is, “a portrait of religious man, the man who lives in all of us, as he resists the Kingdom and destroys the Christ in defense of his own religion.”
Understanding all of this hopefully helps us to see that it was only out of love for Peter that Jesus uses such an aggressive rebuke. If Peter was to be the rock of the Church, as Jesus called him to be, Peter would have to lead not by what he or any man found convenient or by what made sense, but instead by the will of God as revealed in the words of His Son Jesus.
I think we have all had those moments in life that can help us relate to Peter. We pray for the Lord’s will to be done, and when the answer comes it seems to be counterintuitive to what we think we know and understand about God and what we think we know and understand about how things should be. Like Peter, therein lies our problem as well. There are times we think we know better than God does how to love us and lead us. When we make this mistake, the Lord will come to us as our loving Heavenly Father, just as He did with Peter, and sternly rebuke us. Jesus is not here to call us Satan, but the Lord is with us and guiding us, and we may find His rebuke when plans fall apart, when our lives are thrown into chaos or even when God speaks to us through other people that rebuke us and reveal to us our error.
God never rebukes us in anger or to punish us. All of God’s anger and punishment for our sins was brought down on the head of our Lord and Savior Jesus as He bled and died on the cross in our place. Having died our death and risen to give us new life, Jesus has satisfied the wrath of God. Much like any loving yet imperfect earthly father does, there are times that our perfect Heavenly Father must give us His “tough love” and discipline us in order to protect us, teach us and put us back on the narrow path that leads to life.
This is the wisdom we are taught repeatedly in the Bible, especially in the book of Proverbs.
- Proverbs 3:11, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
- Proverbs 13:18, “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.”
- Proverbs 15:31, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.”
How is it that we are to discern the times when the Lord is disciplining us versus those times that our own sin or the sin of the world are wreaking havoc in our lives? The Word of God. Staying in, living in, and knowing the Word of God. We cannot decipher the Lord’s leading, teaching or rebuke by our own fallible human reason or experience. We must rely on the Word of God that, as 2 Timothy 3:16 says is, “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Rejoice in the love of the Lord, both in His love of forgiveness and blessing and in His love of Fatherly discipline, trusting that the Lord who spared not even His own Son for us will also not spare us from ourselves to ensure that we receive the fullness of the salvation we have been so graciously and freely given.
Thanks for joining me today for another devotion in God’s Word, and remember, that God has forgiven yesterday, is with you today and has already taken care of tomorrow. Amen.