7/22/2018 – Matthew 16:14-23

by admin on July 22, 2018

7/22/20018 – Message Audio

Principles Jesus Taught – 4

The Carl George Principle

22 July 2018

Matthew 16: 13-23



Mother Theresa—hang around people not like you and go and do something that can never be paid back.  (Being JC in the real world)

Robert Schuller—God majors in the impossible.  (Worthy vision)

Dallas Willard—we do not grow through information, only through interaction. (Discipleship)

Today:  Carl GeorgeWhat do you want to do?  How are you getting into your own way?  (overcoming challenges)


Carl George—Fuller Seminary and Evangelistic Institute.  Challenged me to think outside the box, as opposed to novel programs, techniques, skills.  Is what we are doing in line with Jesus agenda for church?  If not…why not? 


Getting into your own way.  Any experience with that?  Other names for thisà

Stumbling over your own feet;   letting preconceived ideas take over; self-sabotage.

Self defeating behavior. 


Warren Buffet:  (talking to audience at UW-Madison on success in business)

Everybody here has the ability to do anything I do and much beyond.  Some of you will and some of you won’t.  For those who won’t—it will because you get in your own way, not because the world doesn’t allow you.   (It diminishes the blame factor, doesn’t’ it?)


Some self-defeating behaviors.

  • Focusing on what others need to do rather than on what you need to do
  • Taking things too personally
  • Losing objectivity
  • Being a reactor
  • Thinking you’re indispensible.
  • Procrastinationà fear, envy, obsession, self-pity, resentment, learned helplessness….



This is a hinge story: part three on Matthew’s gospel closes with it; part four opens.  Two themes:  Jesus identity (11:2-16:20)  and the way of the cross (16:21-20::34).

V13à Caesarea Philippi—Panyas.  Shrine of Pan, also of Imperial cult.  Rebuilt by Philip, son of Herod the Great.  Caesarea in honor of Tiberius, Philippi on honor of himself.  Distinguished from Caesarea on coast (built by father Herod)


Time has come on journey for a fresh understanding of Jesus and the role of disciple.  When Jesus asks about Son of Man, there is assumption that readers know this….further clarification of this title is now made with reference that Jesus is Son of God. 

V14à John the Baptist back from the dead.

Elijah—helper of the weak and poor; forerunner of end of time

Jeremiah—caustic critic of Jerusalem and power brokers there. 


V15à  BUT……who do you say?   Draws sharp line between all those titles of popular approval named by disciples and surpassing high reality of Jesus. 


V16—Simon wins the Jeopardy jackpot.   The true confession of faith that frames the entire gospel. 


V17à Jesus response to Peter is three fold:  blessing; new name; commission. 

Binding and loosing = regulation of ethical life of religious community by means of authoritative teaching.  Also has to do with admissions committee.


V21à From that time…..begins fourth section of Mt. First passion prediction:  Jesus beings to teach disciples that God’s purposes involve death and resurrection.   This is a plot summary sentence.   This prediction (c.f. 17:22f; 20:17f; [26:2])  underscores divine necessity. 


V22à  We can’t have that!  Jesus interprets Peter’s alarm as expressing Satan’s opposition to God’s will  (getting in the way).   Jesus call:  get behind me = discipleship call (4:19). 


The remaining verse of the chapter (16:24-28) presents Jesus death as having direct implications for Xn discipleship.   That’s next week with Daniel Berrigan principle.



Time has come in Matthew for a fresh understanding of Jesus identity and a clarification of the disciples’ role.  This is a major task. 


  1. CP is the perfect place for this challenge.

 Imperial cultà God’s purposes, not those of Rome, are asserted in recognition of God’s commissioned leader, Jesus.   (Pan also god of shepherds and flocks)


This is the farthest Jesus ever travels…..getting his disciples out of familiar territory.  We have already noted some of the ways we get into our own way…..here is the biggest one of all—our tenacious beliefs.  Even though the disciples are surrounded by the unfamiliar and in some way the true opposite of their comfort level, Peter (spokesperson for the rest, btw) still clings to his ideas about Jesus.

He gets the substance of the confession right, but he misses the point entirely as to why the Son of God is standing in their presence.  He’s looking for approval of status quo, Jesus is challenge to all that. 


Perhaps Peter already had figured out that if he changes his thinking about Jesus he’d have to do the same for this ongoing bake sale he’s signed up for. 

How does our thinking get into our own way?


This is the first and only time in Matthew, or any of the gospels for that matter, that the word “church” is used.  That should say something.  Couple of probable meanings:  assembled Israel as God’s covenant people (called out); OR….a summoned civic or political assembly.  What is happening here is Jesus forming an inclusive community, an alternative to Rome’s order, and at same time opposed by Satan’s forces.   Between a rock and hard place—could be a play on Peter’s name!  Rocky. 


  1. Binding and loosing. This is about interpreting Jesus teaching.  It is the whole community that is responsible.   This is why Dallas Willard’s principle is so vital.  People come to church expecting the preacher is give all the answers—more info about God—in reality God’s teaching is understood only as the community wrestles with it through conversation, prayer, study and fundamentally in how we treat one another. 


This is where the rubber hits the road.   You cannot say you believe one thing and then act out as if that belief has no practical application.   No one, btw, is exempt from this duplicity.  However, this is not the final score. If it were we would be condemned to perpetual fatalism.  Here is myth of Sisyphus comes to mind—a myth well ensconced in the minds of ancient people.  Life is futile, you just about get that rock up to the top of the hill and then it rolls back down and you have to begin again and again and again.  This is a powerful thought pattern that can take over your life.


When Jesus points to death and resurrection he is not telling the guys that life is about fatalism and futility; he is proclaiming that God’s vision will shatter and expose the limitation of the power of every ideology out there.  JC is the power of God that will stand you on your feet for the living of your days.  When JB Phillips wrote his book Your God is Too Small, he had this directly in mind.  Jesus life has direct application to ours.


  1. Peter the rock is a stumbling block. This is a pun, play on words, a little bit of humor in all seriousness.  On the one hand Peter is to be commended, on the other; he should not allow his commendation to go to his head.   He only has half the equation right, which means what?   It’s kind of like being half pregnant.


Peter’s reaction of Jesus passion prediction is one of shock, disorientation and fear. And here Jesus responds in the complete opposite to what he said a verse or two before.

            Get behind me

            You are a hindrance

            You are not on God’s side.

Don’t you think Peter was right?  Wouldn’t you think the same?  Jesus gives two commands here:

            Get awayà Peter’s misunderstanding represents Satan’s blocking the way of obedience.

            Get behind meà Peter must follow the leader in discipleship: embrace the cross.



How do you get into your own way?   How do you self sabotage God’s will for your life?

Peter allowed his own good intentions to cloud his commitment to let Jesus call the shots, to craft the vision, to set the higher standard of God’s power loosing and binding our hearts to him. 


Matthew’s gospel is all about Jesus and his new community.  This includes Jesus fundamental vision for the Kingdom’s work here and now, how fellowship into this community in entered, and how life is regulated.    This is why the Sermon on the Mount is essential reading and undertaking.  Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy is the best read on it.  Note the title: Divine Conspiracy. 


Matthew is about the Kingdom’s standards, values priorities, and style.  OK….who is the custodian of all that?  Here is the rub and centuries of argument within the church.  Is it Peter and his successors who run he show?   Only Jesus alone. 


Jesus is found in his instruction—the fullness of his teaching for Matthew is his gospel.  This addresses the community with authority, teaching people how to enter the community and the standards and criteria of its behaviors. 


This passage is known as the Office of the Keys and it’s been misconstrued and misappropriated forever.  Is the church as we know it, the church Jesus has in mind?  The Protestant principle of Scripture Alone gets at this truth.  There is no room for elevated positions or special privilege.  One does not speak with authority because of some office; authority only comes from being connected to the only authority, Jesus.

Anyone claiming to speak for Christ should be tested by the norm of Jesus words.  Which mean, of course, not selected passages but the whole gospel witness.


While not perfect, what we try to accomplish here at Nova is taking Jesus seriously and being willing to think in some different categories and what about the faith community.  I am most concerned about how we act once we leave this room.   Will people know that Jesus is off the cross and on the loose in us?   Will be infect someone else with the compassion and mercy that has met us face to face?   This does not excuse bad behavior, but it does move us beyond that.  


The essence of Xn prayer is really this:  praying daily for the knowledge of the will of God and the capacity and courage to carry it out. 







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