more mindful of the things of god or men

Scripture To Consider:
“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 be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you.'”

“But Jesus 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.’” Matthew 16.21-23

Something To Consider:
The two fundamental and supreme doctrines of Christianity are the truths concerning the divine person and the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Other truths are vital; others are indeed inseparably related to these; but these doctrines are absolutely essential. Without these two doctrines Christianity would cease to be a distinct true biblically based religion, if it continued to be a religion at all. These two all-important doctrines have been and continue to be under attack by the enemy of our souls. Therefore, as true Christians we must not allow the 21st century downplay of these two doctrines to be victorious.

When at Caesarea Philippi Jesus had brought to a climax His teaching concerning the first of these truths. There, He began to show unto His disciples, that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, but on the third day, He would be raised up. This was an actual beginning. Before this Jesus made veiled allusions to the cross. Now, however, with definiteness and clearness He stated the certainty and the necessity of His death.

It was necessary for Jesus to explain in advance and in detail these most important aspects, His person as Peter so elegantly stated Him to be the Son of the living God, His atoning death, and His being raised from the dead three days later. The importance of Jesus’ death being the very essence of his atoning work could never be understated, and yet, it is rarely stated by present day professing religious leaders.

As Jesus taught of His resurrection, the disciples seemed to be utterly unable to truly understand. This biblical concept had not been taught by the prevailing so-called religious establishment, just as many biblical concepts are not being taught today, or if taught, they are not being biblically taught.

And at that, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” To the mind of this devoted disciple, who had just acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, the prediction of death seemed like a confession of defeat, a contradiction of the Messianic claim, and at least an admission unworthy of His Lord.

And yet, how many times do we respond likewise at the hint of that which repels us, at that which appears to our fleshly motivated and limited earthly perspective to be that which hints at our or others suffering? But Jesus, rebuked by Peter, turns to rebuke Peter by His declaring, “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.”

How often are we more mindful of the things of men than the things of God? How often have we been an offense to Jesus due to our immediate response to the first sight of pain or difficulty? These words of Jesus are serious, but not quite as severe as they may seem. Jesus does not mean that Peter is really satanic and depraved, but that in urging Christ to shrink from death, to turn away from pain, to depart from suffering, Peter is playing the part of the tempter and is siding with men and not with God.

The offense of the cross has never ceased and never will while men rule upon the earth and their emotions rule over their lives. It is still human and natural to insist the death of Christ was not necessary; but the preaching of the cross is the very wisdom of God and the power of God, as written by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 1 and verse 18. There Paul proclaimed, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being [a present and continued tense] being saved it is the power of God.”

More Scripture To Consider:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him [or her] deny himself [or herself], and take up his [or her] cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what is a man [woman, or young person] profited if he [or she] loses his own soul? Or what will a man [person] give in exchange for his [or her] soul?’

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his [or her] works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16.24-28

Something Else To Consider:
Jesus then turned to His disciples and declared the inevitable law of true Christian life. The servant is not above his master, and if the King is to be crucified, it is not strange that His follower must also bear the cross. In other words, according to Jesus, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him [or her] deny himself [or herself], and take up his [or her] cross, and follow Me.”

The death of Christ will avail for none but those who are willing to die to sin and self, and to follow Jesus as His servant. To deny oneself does not mean to deny something to self, but to renounce self. To take up one’s cross does not mean to endure some little or great irritation, burden, or distress, but to go to the place of crucifixion, and to die. For following after Christ involves the denial and the death of self.

The result, however, is a larger, fuller, freer, and truer life. This is what Jesus means by the promise He added in our Scripture to consider, “For whoever desires to save his [or her] life will lose it, and whoever loses his [or her] life for My sake will find it.” In other words, one who suffers for the sake of Christ will enjoy eternal life, but the promise is of a present experience as well. Jesus is not urging sacrifice for its own sake, but quite definitely, He is urging sacrifice for His sake and for the gospel’s sake.

Such sacrifice results in the enrichment and the enlargement of life, and in the enjoyment of all that is worthy of being called abundant life in Jesus. To lose this larger and fuller life for the sake of all the pleasure, sin, or fleshly satisfaction this world has to offer, would be pure folly! For according to Jesus, “For what is a man [woman or young person] profited if he [or she] gains the whole world, and loses his [or her] own soul?”

Should we make such a tragic bargain with the enemy; and if so, our choice would be eternally damaging and possibly irrevocable. Life may never be regained, for also according to Jesus, “Or what will a man [or woman] give in exchange for his [or her] soul?” Following Christ involves a present tense experience, and the full realization will only be had when Christ returns in glory, also according to Jesus. “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his [or her] works.”

Although Jesus was to be rejected and crucified, He was also to rise from the dead and ascend, and some day to reappear. It would be far better for one to endure the shame and scorn of a present evil world than to be excluded from the predicted kingdom of God which would be manifest at the glorious reappearing of Jesus Christ. This coming of Christ is the third great theme on which our Lord instructed the early disciples while at Caesarea Philippi.

His coming and His kingdom were to be the hope and expectation of His followers, as indeed they have been of the true church through all the centuries. Some of His immediate followers were to catch a glimpse of the glory, not many days after, when they saw their Lord, with Moses and Elijah, in heavenly splendor on the Mount of Transfiguration. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Something More To Consider:
The question has been and continues to be, will this generation be the generation that sees the Son of Man, Jesus, coming in all His glory with His holy angels? Just think about it with me for a moment. What would we do differently? But since no man knows the hour or the day, can we know the season of Christ’s return? Just a few lessons ago, Jesus declared, “You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” Can we therefore, spiritually discern the signs of our times?

The writer of Acts 1.11, proclaimed what the angels declared as Jesus was ascending into heaven, by stating, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” And Jesus Himself in Revelation 22.12-13, acknowledged, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his [or her] work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

And John followed up with these words in verse 14, “Blessed are those who do His [Jesus’] commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city.” Let us notice that John’s emphasis is on a person or persons doing and not hearing only the commandments of Jesus if they seek to be involved in the future seeing of the Son of Man coming from a safe and secure position in Christ and not refused entry into the heavenly celestial city.

A Few Final Words:
The signs of the end times spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24, are fast approaching, wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, world-wide deception, and the increasing in number and in intensity of earthquakes as never seen and or experienced before. Evil earthly unbelief has surpassed the days of Noah as well as the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. The season of the coming return of Jesus is upon us! And according to Jesus, His reward is with Him to give to all who are found worthy, according to Him, His Father, and the Word of God, and not according to those who have attempted to rewrite the actual commandments of Christ.

According to Hebrews 9.28, we are told; “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him [Jesus] He will appear the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Yes, Jesus perfectly predicted His death and resurrection. Yes, Jesus also perfectly predicted His second coming on various occasions as did several of the New Testament writers as inspired of the Holy Spirit.

And no, Jesus is not coming back empty handed! Yes, He is bringing with Him His reward of our salvation, if we are indeed waiting for Him and also faithfully doing what His commandments demand. Therefore, a few questions immediately rise to the forefront of my mind and heart. Are we waiting for Jesus Christ to return? And if so, what are we doing with His commandments while we patiently wait? Are we truly abiding in Christ? Are we truly continuing in His Word? Are we willingly enduring to the end and thereby are we being saved according to the Word of God?

In Closing:
The apostle Paul writing to Titus, in chapter 2, teaches us, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He may redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

That, therefore, answers the question of what we should be doing; but each of us must answer for ourselves, whether we are honestly and joyfully waiting for and anticipating seeing the coming of the Son of Man, and our Lord of lords, Jesus.

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for allowing Jesus to predict and have recorded that prediction of His death and His resurrection. Thank You for revealing to all who have spiritual ears to hear, the biblical truth of the second coming of Jesus Christ. May we be found worthy to escape all that is to come upon the earth in the form of Your wrath and judgment. May we be found under the spiritual shadow of Your mighty wings. And may we also be found observing all that Jesus taught. In Him Always, Amen!

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