Learning to think in a new way with a different perspective can be challenging, maybe even uncomfortable, but it is necessary for a child of God. Jesus challenged His disciples in Matthew 16:13-20 to think differently.
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”13
Notice how Jesus’ disciples responded. They told Jesus what others were saying about Him. There were a wide variety of opinions. Their opinions were based by human standards.
Look at Proverbs 3:5-7 to see why He needed to help the disciples to see beyond human standards what it means to follow Jesus. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
Jesus needed to change the disciples’ hearts. The only way was to challenge them, to get them to think differently. He was preparing them for His departure. He was going to hand the baton off to them so the Gospel can go out into the world after He returns to heaven.
Jesus needs to change your heart. He does so by challenging you. He allows trials, hardships, and challenges to come into your life to get you to look up at Him. He wants to hand the baton into your hands so you will share the Gospel with those around you.
Look at verse 15 and notice how personal Jesus gets, “But who do YOU say I am?”
How do you answer Jesus? Peter answered correctly.
Jesus’ reply to Peter demonstrates how faith comes from God only. “You are blessed, Simon, son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.”17
What do you learn from this verse? Jesus is letting you and I know that faith comes from God. No human being can give you such a gift, no pastor, parent, teacher, family member, or friend. We can encourage one another in faith but God is the one who will call you into faith. This is why YOU must call on God.
Notice another challenge that Jesus gives Peter, see verses 18-19. When you choose to believe in Christ, a calling will be placed upon you, like Peter received. This calling is the same for every believer. God will build His church using you.
You and I are His church. It is a noble calling that will challenge your human nature. You will have to be willing to be humble and broken first. Jesus needs to sit upon the throne in your heart and remove your stony heart with a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Jesus needs to become first in your life, not a back-burner option. In John 3:30, John the Baptist understands the challenge God places before each of us, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Verses 18 and 19 reveal the ministry work you and I are called to do for the Lord. Understanding that we receive the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven means that God entrusts His children with all that belongs to Him. We must not take our calling lightly. We must not let our hearts and minds be divided by godly things along with worldly things. Look at Matthew 6:24, James 1:8, James 4:4,8, I Samuel 7:3, and 1 Kings 18:21 and allow God to challenge you to move from worldly living to godly living.
Be encouraged in your challenges. God is with you. Are you facing unknown territory? Has your heart been broken? Finding life to be disappointing at the moment, or God hasn’t answered a prayer yet? You are in good company. Everyone is facing challenges.
Taken from DaySpring Calendars, Never Forgotten Always Loved, January 20, “The mind of God is different from the thoughts of man. As we follow Him, we discover that we lose (ourselves) to gain (Christ). We surrender (our wills) to win. We die (to ourselves) to live. We give to receive. We serve to reign. We scatter to reap. In weakness we are made strong. In humility we are lifted up. In emptiness (of ourselves) we are made full (in Christ)!”
God loves a good challenge. There is nothing He can’t conquer for you. Call to Him, listen to His voice, and obey wherever He leads. You will be victorious my friend. A day is coming where God will make everything right once again and you will be with Jesus in heaven for eternity.