The Way Jesus Plays Texas Hold-em

August 19, 2016

Matthew 16:21-28

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

CONSIDER THIS

From that time on . . .

From what time? From the time Peter made his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Let’s revisit that scene for a minute.

You will remember that others had properly identified Jesus before (i.e. the Syrophonecian woman and the Roman Centurion). Why didn’t Jesus get excited about those occasions? This time with Peter had been different. His confession was of another order. Watch how Jesus responded:

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

It wasn’t that Peter had right knowledge. He had the true “knowing.” No-one told Peter information. Jesus had been revealing it steadily along the way. Peter gave witness not to knowing about Jesus, but to truly knowing Jesus. See the difference? I like how Paul captures this distinction in his letter to the Ephesian Church. Read it carefully.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Did you catch the money phrase? Yes, “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Sure, discipleship is about growing in the knowledge of the things of God, but only to the extent that this knowledge is working its way into actually knowing Jesus.

I don’t know how Paul could have made it more clear when he said, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

That’s the whole tamale! That’s a prayer for the ages—maybe one of the greatest prayers ever prayed. Jesus gave us the Lord’s prayer. I’m going to call this prayer Paul gave us, “The Disciples Prayer.” Take it from you and your to me and my and we have it.

Now, let’s get back to where we began: From that time on . . . (From the time when the chasm was crossed from mere knowledge to knowing) Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

In Texas hold-em parlance, Jesus just dealt his disciples the “turn” card. There is that place in our walk with Jesus when we make the turn. It’s the no-turning-back moment. It happens when our knowledge about Jesus moves to the level of knowing Jesus. That’s where he turns the journey toward the proverbial river, aka Jerusalem, bka “The Cross.”

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Like Peter, we will continue to drop the ball and from time to time Jesus may even liken us to Satan. That’s all part of it. That’s all in the realm of knowing. It’s where the tour turns into a pilgrimage. That’s when Jesus has our attention at a whole new level and he can finally say things like, For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

This is the place where the walk gets incredibly harder and infinitely better.

 

Daily Text MATTHEW 08-19-16THE PRAYER

Abba Father, I pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all your people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In the name of Jesus and for the sake of knowing him more and more, Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. How about you? Do you find yourself in the kind of discipleship relationship with Jesus where knowledge about him is getting transformed into knowing him more? How might you make that turn?

2. What might it look like for you to pray the “Disciples Prayer” as I have named it in an every day way? How can that happen?

3. This “turn” keeps happening in our walk with Jesus. There’s the BIG turn and then there are a thousand smaller (but similar) turns. Where are you with that? Have you made the BIG turn? Are you in the midst of one of the smaller turns? Share those stories with those on the journey with you.

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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