The Will of God and the Willfulness of People

October 28, 2016

Matthew 26:31-35

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

CONSIDER THIS

We see in today’s text two opposing forces: the will of God and the willfulness of human beings. While there is no real contest between these two forces it does create significant conflict and ultimately chaos.

Here’s the will of God from the text:

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, …

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Now here’s the willfulness of men:

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will,” …

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”

Remember that time at Caesarea Philippi when Peter made his famous confession of Christ and then went on to contradict Jesus words about his future suffering and death? Remember what Jesus said? 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.”

We prize leaders who have strength of will and force of personality. They exude confidence and determination. These kinds of leaders can be very effective and powerful and they have their place in the world. As public leaders in the Kingdom of God—not so much. That doesn’t change the fact that we are often seduced into selecting these kinds of leaders for public posts in the Kingdom of God. Even the great prophet Samuel was hoodwinked into choosing Saul as Israel’s first King on these kinds of qualifications.

For better or worse, leaders of this nature do inspire followers. Look at the way the rest of the disciples followed Peter’s lead. And all the other disciples said the same. That’s why the leaders we choose to follow in the Kingdom of God is a matter of critical importance. We will invariably become like them.

That’s not my major thought, though, from today’s text. Here’s the big deal from my vantage point. No-one said anything about the most revolutionary thing Jesus said that night.

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

It’s like they didn’t even hear it. They were bound up in the fretful anxiety of the moment at hand. Jesus told them he would be raised from the dead and that he would meet them in Galilee. It didn’t register. Peter’s willfulness immediately led the conversation in a completely different direction. Wouldn’t you like to think that if you were there you might have asked him to say a bit more about rising from the dead part?

The disciples were bound in their own human categories and earth bound framework of thinking. Resurrection is a divine category. Though it is as real as rain it can only be grasped by faith. It makes me wonder what simply does not register in my reading of Scripture. It makes me wonder what I am closed off to even comprehending.

I think the point is to get in touch with how our own willfulness can get in the way of our understanding and doing the will of God.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, shake us loose from our predetermined assumptions that can actually distract us from hearing and seeing what is most truly there. Resurrection is simply beyond our categories. We think we understand what it means yet we probably only barely get it. Open our minds to comprehend your will in all its fullness. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

daily-text-matthew-10-28-16THE QUESTIONS

1. How might you break free from the world’s categories of what is most desired in a leader?

2. Are you a willful or a strong willed person? Would you consider yourself a controlling person? Do you see how that could hinder your faith?

3. What would it take to open up your capacities to comprehend Scripture at a deeper level—to possibly see what you have been missing?

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

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