Most people find it very difficult to believe the Christian message. It seems a nice idea but it really does take some believing. Well, you are right. It really does take some believing, in the natural, fallen world in which we live.
You see, human beings are blinded by the curse of God. The background is the story of God barring Adam from heaven because he disobeyed. Without seeing that, it is not possible to understand the coming of Christ. Why on earth did he come ?
Well, to break God’s curse on mankind. Yes, God’s curse. The story is in the first book of the Bible, Genesis and chapter 2 from verse 15 and all of chapter 3. God cursed mankind because Adam disobeyed God’s command. Adam listened to the serpent and responded in obedience to what the serpent said. Doing that, Adam directly disobeyed God when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now, that is the key issue. Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind has ever since wanted to decide his own morality, in direct contravention of God’s moral order.
That is the issue. Whether you want to believe the story of Genesis literally or metaphorically, the issue remains. God’s way or man’s. God’s terms of reference or man’s.
I have lived for a certain number of decades. I can tell you that God’s terms have been increasingly rejected for man’s own foolish terms. And the devastation is all around us in crime levels, family breakdown, drugs dealing and abuse, abortion as contraception, the hatred of the secularists for anything Christian. It will only get worse, I can assure you, without the gracious intervention of God to turn the situation around.
Which brings us to what is happening in the gospel of Matthew chapter 16. There are three particular events recorded on which I want to focus.
Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God
Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus coming suffering, and Jesus rebuke of Peter for that
the terms of discipleship, ie the terms by which a person lives as a Christian