(part 2)

It is so difficult to escape from the influences of arrogance and pride when we are impressed with our accomplishments! When we are impressed with what we have done, we feel quite significant. We may tell others about how important we are, or we just may internalize the thought, "I am really something!"

Nothing elevates our sense of importance quite like having someone else tell us how significant something we did was. When other people tell us how important something we did was, our personal sense of significance can really grow.

That is when humility becomes a matter of personal control and not an attitude. For example, it is not humble to talk about it. It is very inappropriate to say to others, "Look at what I did! I am very important!" A Christian simply should not do that! However, it is quite okay to feel it as long as we don't say it.

To me, a powerful and quite insightful statement about Jesus is found in Philippians 2:3-7.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Jesus is the true example of humility. Can you imagine being in the form of God and not hanging on to that state? Can you imagine going from being in the form of God to being a human? Can you image being in the form of God and becoming a human servant?

This evening I want to focus on a story in Jesus and Peter's life that most of you know quite well. I want you to notice how easy it is for someone close to Jesus to become arrogant. Read with me Matthew 16:13-28.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

  1. Jesus and the 12 were in an area just north of the Jewish territory of Palestine.
    1. In our words, Jesus asked, "How are people explaining who I am and what I am doing?"
      1. The first thing to note is that Jewish people who came into contact with the results of Jesus' work or with Jesus himself had to explain who he was.
        1. I am confident that a person's explanations were consistent with his or her personal understanding of how God works--is that not what you do?
        2. I can just hear the people -- "Is he from God? Is he a prophet? Is he a past great personality who has been resurrected?"
        3. I can hear some say, "That is not the way God works!"
        4. I can hear others say, "God must be at work in Jesus--there is no other explanation!"
        5. What I want you to especially note is this: "If you came into contact with Jesus' work or with Jesus himself, you had to explain him!"
      2. That truth has not changed.
        1. It is so easy to get distracted so that we never have to explain Jesus--we focus on all other kinds of religious things but Jesus.
        2. It is possible to be "a good little Christian" today in the church and never, never think about Jesus or discuss Jesus.
        3. The primary consideration in being a Christian is this: "What do you think about Jesus and what God did through him?"
        4. What you think about Jesus will change who you are and how you live.
    2. Then Jesus turned to the 12 and asked, "What about you? Who do you think I am?"
      1. These are the men who have been with him everyday!
      2. They had seen everything--the crowds, the acclamations, the attacks, the incredible deeds.
      3. They had heard everything--the sermons, the private teachings, the parables, the explanations.
      4. With the personal experiences they had, how did they explain him?
    3. Peter said, "This is simple--you are God's promised Christ."
      1. What Jesus did and what most people in Israel expected in God's promised Christ were not the same thing.
      2. People might explain Jesus in many ways, but very few of them would explain who he was by saying he was the Christ.
      3. As incredible as Jesus' deeds were, he simply did not fit most Jewish expectations regarding the Christ.
      4. That simply could not be the explanation for who Jesus was!

  2. Jesus confirmed that Peter understood something no one else realized.
    1. More than that, Jesus said you know this because God Himself revealed this to you!
      1. That is pretty heady stuff!
        1. "You realize something the other 11 men here have not yet understood."
        2. "You realize this because God Himself gave you a special revelation."
      2. Because you realize this, there are some special benefits that accompany this awareness.
        1. First, I want you to understand that on this realization I am going to build my "called out" people.
        2. Second, I want you to understand not even death can keep me from doing what I intend to do.
        3. Third, I want you to understand I am giving you the keys to the kingdom I will rule.
      3. For many of us, that is an invitation to arrogance.
        1. You understand something no one has yet realized!
        2. You understand it because God enabled you to understand it!
        3. You will be in charge of opening my kingdom to others!
      4. At that moment Peter had no idea of what this awareness would cost him.
        1. He was just impressed with how important he was!
        2. Those are the kinds of things that can go to the head of a take-charge person!

  3. The fact the Jesus was the Christ meant among other things that Jesus had to die.
    1. Jesus began to explain to the 12 that he would die in Jerusalem.
      1. The disciples were not to tell others that Jesus was the Christ.
      2. They were just to understand that Jesus would suffer, he would be killed, and he would be resurrected.
    2. That simply did not fit with Peter's expectations!
      1. Peter was right about who Jesus was.
      2. Peter was wrong about what he expected to happen.
    3. So Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Jesus for saying such things.
      1. The force of what Peter said was, "God will never let this happen!"
      2. "We will not let this happen!"
      3. "You simply must not talk this way."
    4. Without realizing it, Peter was powerfully tempting Jesus.
      1. So the man who received a special revelation from God was called Satan.
      2. The man powerfully used by God was being used by Satan!
      3. Jesus was quite clear!
        1. "You are being major trouble to me! You are now acting in Satan's interest, not in God's interest."
        2. "You are not interested in what God had in mind."
        3. "You are only interested in human desires and expectations."

  4. Then Jesus told all the 12.
    1. Following me means self-denial and a cross.
    2. Do not think you can avoid these two things.
      1. If you try to avoid them you will lose something more valuable than physical life.
      2. God will know what you have done.
      3. God will deal with you on the basis of what you have done rather than the basis of who you say you are.
    3. You will live to see the reality of my kingdom.
      1. Jesus would not physically live to see it.
      2. However, the 12 would live to see it.

All I want you to see is how easy it is for a person devoted to God to become a very arrogant person. All it takes are two things: ignorance of God's purposes and substituting your plans for God's purposes.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 23 October 2005

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