Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
This past week I took a walk in my neighborhood. The weather has been so nice lately and I hadn’t had a chance to get out and simply enjoy it. I grabbed my phone, my keys, and as I locked my front door, I knew God was prompting me to make this time about Him.
And I cringed.
Not a very spiritually mature moment for me, but it’s the truth. Lately, I have been filling every moment with work, play, sleep and repeat, giving less and less attention to moments I connect with God the most – through quiet, serene environments, usually outside. (Yep. Like taking a walk.)
Pretending He didn’t notice me cringing, I responded in a moment of extreme honesty and weakness by speaking these words that surprised and bewildered me: “Jesus, I don’t want to spend time with you today because I get bored and frustrated.”
Where did THAT come from!?
As I was reflecting on the question above, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s statement in response:
“Well maybe the Jesus you’re thinking of isn’t the right one.”
Of anyone in the Bible, Peter can probably most identify with my moment. In Matthew 16:13-28 we see two pivotal moments between Jesus and Peter. In the first, Jesus is with his disciples in Caesarea Philippi:
•Jesus: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
•Disciples: “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
•Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?”
•Peter: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
Peter’s confession of faith and truth was confirmed in Jesus’ response: “You are blessed, Simon (Peter) son of John because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matt.16:17). Peter recognizes three very important things about Jesus’ identity:
1) Jesus is the Messiah (Savior).
2) Jesus is the Son of God.
3) Jesus’ identity directly affects Peter personally.
Pretty cool, right? A few verses later, we find that Jesus, builds off of the moment with his disciples in Caesarea Philippi by telling them “plainly” that:
1) He had to go to Jerusalem.
2) He would suffer at the hands of leaders/teachers of religious law.
3) He would be killed.
4) He would be raised on the third day.
Unfortunately, it seems we lost the disciples around numbers two or three. My guess is the fourth was overshadowed by their emotional and maybe even verbal reactions. Despite the heads up from Jesus, this was some hard truth about Him to swallow. Peter, in reaction, takes Jesus aside and corrects Him, in verse 22: “Heaven forbid, Lord. This will never happen to you!”
(As a third party observer, we’re yelling, “You weren’t listening!” “Did you even see number four!?”)
Jesus responds quickly “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.”
Rose Colored Glasses
Even though Jesus had told them all many times – plainly and in detail – what would happen to Him, Peter hadn’t accepted this because he had his own presuppositions of what Jesus came to do. He was His Savior. That meant he would save them from Roman oppression, right? Free them from slavery. Rid the government in place at the time and rightly sit on the throne and rule in that day. You know, be super awesome and mighty and stuff.
But the picture Jesus gave Peter and the disciples of their Savior was not a knight on a white horse. It actually was a servant on a donkey’s colt. Not a king in jewels on a usurped throne. But the king of the Jews on a rugged cross.
It was this Jesus, they had yet to fully know.
You Know What Assuming Does
We usually have ideas of what/who Jesus is for us. Usually it entails something we’d get because of it. And commonly, there can be some truth to His character in that.
(i.e. In my moment of weakness – My Strength. In my moment of sadness – My Comforter. In my moment of trial – My Peace. So on and so forth.)
Don’t get me wrong, those things are nice and all, but they form to where I am in the moment, instead of the other way around. What Peter encountered teaches me something new about Jesus and me.
In his first encounter, Peter was told by Jesus:
“You are blessed, Simon (Peter) son of John because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (vs. 17).
And in his second:
“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.” (vs. 23).
What God Reveals to Me About His Character VS. What I Assume to Be His Character
Jesus makes this even more clear to His disciples (and us!) when he continues His correction of Peter: “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.”
If I choose to be a follower of Christ, I have to set aside my presuppositions of who Jesus is and let Him speak for Himself. I have to recognize His truth and align my life to that versus living my life and aligning Him to me. That’s part of “shouldering my cross.” Letting go of my idea of life and picking up His truth to live by.
When I let Christ speak for Himself, I can expect God to reveal more of His character to me through my ongoing relationship with Him. The joy of His truth revealed will most definitely lead to a true, abundant and adventurous life!
Jesus makes His purpose clear. “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10).
My Spiritual Walk
I’m so grateful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit on my walk that day. I was not seeing clearly and by the gentle statement posed by Him, truth was revealed to me that I had it all wrong. I needed the real Jesus more than I realized. The Jesus I was thinking of was not a correct reflection of the Father’s heart toward me.
Awe-inspiring adventure, die-hard love, rich awakenings and so much more await for me in my relationship with the Jesus He says He is. It’s the resurrected Savior King Jesus that I want to spend my time with throughout the rest of my life.
And you know what’s pretty cool? He ended up making my walk all about Him that day. And it was exactly what I needed.