The Higher Purpose of God

Matthew 16:21-23 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.  23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Repeatedly in His ministry, Jesus told his disciples what His ultimate goal was.  They, however, did not want to accept that.  They thought they had found the leader who would free Israel from the bonds of Rome.  This was the human desire (“of men”, vs. 23).  Their horizon was too low.  Jesus had a much more important purpose–a divine purpose (“of God”, vs. 23).

The use of the word “must” in verse 21 is important.  The Greek verb translated there emphasizes the necessity of the task at hand.  Without Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, there would be no gospel and no salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Peter is rightly rebuked.  He, like the other disciples, didn’t get it.  They were not listening to what Jesus had been teaching them all along.  Essentially, they didn’t want to believe it.  They wanted deliverance from a nation (Rome), but Jesus was to provide them deliverance from a far worse judgment (hell).  National salvation for Israel will come (Romans 11, particularly vs. 26), but it was not yet time.

What we can learn from this is that God’s purposes go far beyond ours.  We may want immediate relief from the trial we face, but God is seeking a higher good.  Like the disciples, we often fail to see this, but we must learn to trust God in all things.