What Jesus wants from us first and foremost is our trust; is our faith.
April 4, 1993. Although it was 25 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was nine years old and had been considering baptism for some time. Today was the day. I was going to let the world know that I believed everything Jesus said and was committing my life to that truth.
That Spring morning, my grandpa’s last Sunday as the preacher of our church before retiring, I stepped down into the water of the baptistry and publically said one of the most important things I’ll ever say: “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God, and I accept him as my Lord and Savior.” Despite the warmth of the water, chills raced through my body as I considered the power of what I had just said.
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This confession we make just prior to our baptism comes from this week’s sermon text, Matthew 16:13-23. Jesus asks the disciples a probing question: “Who do the people say that I am?” The disciples give various answers and then Jesus asks the real question, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon-Peter is the one to speak up: “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.”
Put another way: “You are the one we have waited for. You are the Savior of the world. I believe everything about you is true.” Peter has worded a confession of faith for all Christians to use for all time.
Here’s what’s interesting about what’s tied into this story: A short time later, Peter, just like everyone else living in the pre-resurrection time, shows that he still doesn’t understand what it is that Jesus has to do.
Peter thought he was being helpful in trying to “save” Jesus. Perhaps even magnanimous. It would be easy for us to judge Peter’s ineptitude and lack of comprehension in this moment. He’s just articulated the greatest confession a person can utter but then goes right back to thinking with the same small-mindedness of which we each find ourselves guilty in matters concerning God.
For us, living in the post-resurrection life, it’s easy to say, “Come on Peter. Let Jesus do what Jesus is here to do.” But how could Peter have known? You really think you would have done any better in the same situation?
And that’s okay. We can find ourselves in the same boat as Peter. We can profess faith in Jesus and still not know or fully comprehend everything about Jesus. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. What Jesus wants from us first and foremost is our trust; is our faith.
After that, Jesus wants us to let Jesus do what only Jesus can do. We don’t come to Jesus as fully formed mature Christians. We first establish a foundation of belief and then begin to pursue Christlikeness every day.
Peter didn’t realize that the entire purpose of Jesus being on earth was to do what Peter was trying to stop him from doing.
We have the luxury of living in the post-resurrection life where we’ve already seen the culmination of Jesus’ saving work. Our job is to turn over our own desires in order to “set our minds on the things of God” and let Jesus Christ be the Lord of our lives and Savior of the world.
Two questions to consider:
How are you daily living out your belief that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God?
As you turn over control of your life to Jesus, in what ways are you setting your mind on the things of God?