SEPTEMBER 1- Nº 244 Matthew 16:13-28; Mark 8:27 – 9:1; Luke 9:18-27
Jesus and his disciples traveled to the foothills of Mount Hermon. Just outside of a city called Caesarea Philippi there was a huge cliff. Carved into the side of that cliff was an enormous cave. Water gushed out of it continually. This site had become a place of pagan idol worship. Many false gods were thought to live inside this grotto. We know from historical accounts that the mouth of this cave was referred to as “The Gates of Hell.” Jesus and his disciples may have been walking past this site filled with pagan worshipers when Jesus asked the question, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied, “Some people say that you are John the Baptist; others say Elijah; still others think you are one of the prophets.” “But you, who do you say that I am?” Jesus quizzed them. Simon Peter spoke up. A direct translation of his response is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the God, the living One!” Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the One whom everything written in the Old Testament pointed to. “You are blessed, Simon, because God Himself revealed this to you,” Jesus responded. “On this rock I will build my church, and ‘The Gates of Hell’ will not stop it.” Peter’s testimony about Jesus would become the foundation for all of Christianity for eternity. No false religions or pagan deities could ever destroy it. Then Jesus promised to give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This became important after Jesus’ resurrection as the Church began to form. It was Peter’s job to open the doors of Christianity to various groups of people as they became a part of the new movement (see #292 and #297). Jesus instructed his disciples not to reveal who he was to anyone else. Then he began to explain to them how his physical life would soon end: they would travel to Jerusalem; there he would be mistreated by the religious leaders; he would be killed; but on the third day he would rise again. This information upset Peter. He took Jesus aside and argued with him. “This will never happen to you, Lord!” he insisted. Jesus interrupted him, “Get out of my sight, Satan! You are trying to promote your own plan instead of God’s.” The same man who had just received great wisdom from God had now fallen for Satan’s tricks. He was trying to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Jesus told his 12 disciples, and others who were still following him, that if anyone truly wanted to be his disciple, they needed to deny themselves. They needed to put aside their own personal desires and be willing to follow him even if it meant suffering. “If you are trying to save your own life,” he said, “you will lose it. But if you are willing to lose your life for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, you will save it! What good would it be if you gained the whole world and ended up forfeiting your soul?” he challenged them. Then Jesus added, “I tell you the truth, some of you who are standing here right now will not die before you see the kingdom of God and its power!” Six days later, three of his disciples discovered exactly what he meant (see #245).
Is living for Jesus the primary focus of your life? Or is it just a hobby you do when it doesn’t get in the way of your own plans and agendas? Living life for ourselves only provides temporary pleasures. Living for Jesus has eternal rewards!