Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 21 January 19:
Matthew 16:9 – “Do you not yet perceive?”
It is all about perception – spiritual perception. First Jesus points out that the Pharisees and the Sadducees can’t perceive the reality of the Christ right before their eyes. (Matthew 16:1-4) Then, Jesus questions His disciples about their limited perception of Him – “Do you not yet perceive?” Then, Jesus gets to the point — “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers correctly — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Next, Jesus presents a critical truth, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Flesh and blood cannot discern spiritual truth – it must be given by God –
– John 3:3 — Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
– John 6:44, 65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
– James 1:5 — If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
– 1 Corinthians 2:14 — The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
– John 16:13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
– Psalm 119:66 — Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
The Father draws us to the Son (John 6:44, 65), and through salvation in Christ, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit and then have spiritual perception and discernment. And when we see Jesus truly as the Christ (sight we are given), we see the Truth, and it changes our perception of everything else, we can then judge all things rightly – “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)
However, we can still quench the spirit, grieve the spirit, or get out of step with the spirit if we choose to be guided by the flesh rather than the Spirit. (Eph 4:30; 1 Thes 5:19; Gal 5:25)
Immediately after Jesus commended Peter for seeing Him rightly through the gifting of the Father, Jesus gives Peter a harsh rebuke — “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Peter went right back to judging things from his human perspective rather than from God’s, rather than from spiritual discernment. God’s plan for Jesus simply wasn’t the plan Peter had envisioned for Jesus from his human understanding. Peter needed right perception. When we allow ‘common sense,’ self-centered intellect, and worldly wisdom get in the way of the Spirit, it is “a hindrance” to our mission as Christ’s ambassadors. If we aren’t careful, we can even be tempted to co-opt Jesus for our personal agendas – “Lord, please bless me in the things I want to do,” rather than, “Lord, let your will be done.” How is your perception?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 Jan 19: Pray that God will give you right perception of your circumstances and of others, with a pure heart and the mind of Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 2:16 — For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
– Philippians 4:7 — And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.