The moms met for MBSF again today! Seemed like it has been a long time since we last met on 12 March 2015. As we will be going to Hong Kong during Easter, I thought I could make some Easter desserts for the ladies → Easter egg nests made from chocolate coated muruku.
Study notes on Matthew 16:21-27:
We are now in the movement of Jesus Christ, both in emphasis and location, from His time of ministry in the proclamation of the Good News through His words and His works, to the time of His passion, to the accomplishment of the Good News through His death and resurrection.
This was the first of His passion announcements (Matthew records three), Jesus was preparing them by telling them thrice about what will happen to Him, that He will suffer, die and be raised up again, so that they will not be caught by surprise and not know what happened when the events happen later. It was at this point when the intentions of His ministry came to the surface most clearly, which confronted His disciples then (and now us) with a decision.
In this account, Jesus invited His disciples, and by extension, to us:
- To understand what GOD is really doing through Him ⇒ this involves a new way of thinking
- To follow the Christ, actions which involve loss and gain ⇒ this involves a new way of living
The Gospels and the prophets call us out of ourselves and our own self-centeredness in sin. If we can set aside our childish insistence on having our own immature wills being serviced and instead, put ourselves in service to God’s will, how wonderful will that be!
In the last session, Jesus asked His disciples who do the people and themselves say that He is? and we saw how Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ. However, it is not enough to confess that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 16) if we do not understand that His messiahship meant that He would suffer and die (v. 21); those who wish to follow Him must be ready to pay the same price (v. 24). That is the cost of the kingdom.
In verse 22, we read about Peter rebuking Jesus Christ, we want to note that opposition and rejection often came not from the common people, instead they come from the leading people, who should have known better. Translate that to our own lives, very often, opposition and rejection also come from the people who love us, care about us, who want to protect us. Let us parents take caution not to hinder our children or help them too much that may in turn stumble them instead. As our children’s leaders, we ought to be the ones to proclaim God’s goodness and salvation to them. *Let our children become true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ themselves. There are times they need to choose for themselves and undergo certain events to learn and be closer to God.
The verse also suggests that Peter thought he could stop Jesus Christ from being put to death. However, let us note that the gospel message is incomplete without the cross. If Jesus Christ did not go to the cross, Peter would have died in his sins, and so will we. The early people’s concept of Messiahship is that of being a king, an earthly king. But from God’s point of view, the Messiahship of Jesus Christ is to take up the cross so that the people can be saved from spiritual death and be raised again to reconcile with God eventually.
As a disciple, correcting the rabbi is considered overstepping his boundary. In doing so, Peter was exerting his authority over Jesus Christ, acting as a stumbling block. In Jesus’ response in verse 23, we understood that Peter was not only overstepping, he was seen as the devil’s agent. Remember Satan tempted Jesus and offered Jesus the kingdom without the cross (Matthew 4:8-9) at the wilderness; Peter is offering the same temptation here. Satan has influenced this world so deeply that the world’s values and views are often the devil’s values (James 3:15; 4:7); by valuing the things human beings value (like lack of suffering), Peter is showing that he is in line with the devil.
*Let us parents also be wise to always exercise self-awareness. Knowing our position, and acknowledging that Christ is the Lord → surrendering our lives to Him who is sovereign. Give up the act of blindly following Satan and his world views if we genuinely want to follow God. Taking up one’s cross is an act of humility and our submission to Jesus Christ. How important it is for us to be open, yielding, and submissive to the winds of the Spirit, who guides and clues us into the thoughts and ways of God, both of which are beyond our natural ability to absorb. Also note that great temptations can come from people who love us, care for us, who want to protect us. There is no doubt that these pose as the most difficult temptations to resist or overcome. We, as parents ought to aim to be the rock of faith, not as a stumbling block to our own children.
We must be prepared for people who reject us, giving up being in our comfort zones, and rejecting the world view and values. Keep in mind that as Christians, we are imperfect people much like anybody out there. The thing that sets us apart is that we ought to turn away from self-centeredness and allow God to be in the centre of our lives. When we are willing to give up our life for the sake of Christ, and be willing to put everything into God’s hand, we will find and gain the true life. Things that we can never imagine we could ever have, will be added to us, for God will add according to our measure of faith, things that are important to God. God’s kingdom comes first, may we fervently seek to be part of it.
Even if we gain all the things that people in this world desire or covet after e.g. wealth, status, fame, etc. (things that are ruled by Satan), what profit do we gain if we lose our soul! May we work towards being stedfast in our faith and teach our children the way of God. Don’t be too comfortable with this life. Let it be a constant struggle within us, to stress and emphasize the teachings of God, His goodness and His story. The gospel comes with a cross to bear.
I must confess, these words break me. They break my heart. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” How profound is this mystery… I desire to offer my life to my Lord’s way. Will you please pray for me that the life-giving Spirit would breathe true discipleship into my heart, that I might not fear costly grace (Costly grace, a term that is described/defined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “The Cost of Discipleship”)?
After the lesson, I walked into Levi room and saw how contented Little E was with Asher and his helper. I am so blessed with this week’s study, which is a reminder to me of how costly is the grace of God, to save me from my wretched self. The mercy of God, His boundless and unconditional love, I can’t fathom. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” This week’s study also stirred me from within, of how important my role is as a mother to Little E. It showed me insights into how J and I should be exemplary role models for her, and the ways we should parent her. In fact, there is only one way – seek God for His guidance and follow His ways.