Monday, September 8, 2008

The Events at Caesarea Philippi (Part II)

Sometimes God intervenes in our circumstances in miraculous ways. But sometimes he doesn’t. Does he just love some people more than others? Do we just not have enough faith sometimes? I guess the real question is, what exactly is God interested in doing in our lives and our world? Is there some rhyme or reason to his ways?

Last week at Regeneration ( we began a trek through Matthew 16:13-28. In vv. 13-20, Peter confessed that Jesus is the Messiah. For Peter, the Messiah was a conquering king who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to her former glory. In reply, Jesus taught his disciples that he wants to build a messianic community called the church.

This week, in vv. 21-23, we find that Jesus’ own ideas about the Messiah are very different from Peter’s ideas. For Jesus, the Messiah is a suffering servant (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12). This is the first time in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus predicts his suffering-death-resurrection.

Living under the thumb of the Roman Empire, Peter was looking for a Messiah who would change his circumstances. But Jesus did not come to change Peter’s circumstances. He came to give Peter new life.

What does Jesus’ suffering-death-resurrection have to do with our lives today? Simply put, Jesus did not suffer-die-resurrect so that he can intervene in your circumstances at your every whim. He did not suffer-die-resurrect so that any unfavorable circumstances outside of your control can be changed in your favor. He suffered-died-resurrected in order to give you new life.

God has not promised to always change your circumstances. But he has promised to give you new life in Jesus so that you can worship him rightly, love your neighbor rightly, and rule over the earth rightly. And he has promised to give you grace and mercy in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Sometimes God does intervene in our circumstances in miraculous ways. When that happens, we should be overjoyed and praise him and tell the story. But THE GOSPEL is the good news of the Messiah doing what he came to do. It is the good new that Jesus is a suffering servant who suffered-died-resurrected in order to give us new life. In the future, Jesus will come again: this time as a conquering king. He will come as the Messiah who changes our circumstances: there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:1-5).

Right here, right now, God is not always interested in changing your circumstances; he is interested in changing you.

Here is a link to my notes:

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