Even the Best of Christ’s Disciples Forget

Sometime we hear people say, “God is done with America.” Friends, this is simply not true.

God is not done with Russia, North Korea, Iran, China, the United States, or any country. He is the Sovereign King who is ordaining and installing his leaders in each his nations. Nothing is haphazard; nothing is left to chance. God is organizing the rise of some along with the fall of others. When he desires, he reshuffles the deck. Often times, he does allow the wise to thrive as they seek to walk in accordance with his Word. However, he often decrees the unrighteous, blasphemous, and foolish will materially and temporarily prosper. But what can we say? He is the Omniscient One. God distributes and redistributes his wealth — he makes rich and poor. He is the Sovereign who promotes and demotes. God doesn’t have to ask our permission. He needs not our outside counsel. No one can stay his hand, and no one ought question his doings. This is what we know — the Father has made Jesus Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Father has given all people and nations into his hand. And the Father, Son, and Spirit are doing whatever they deem absolutely best for Christ’s kingdom and saints. Jesus Christ really does have the “kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” It is good for us to remember this. It is good for us to humbly suffer while we joyfully say, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.”

However, these truths are quickly forgotten by even the sharpest of Christ’s disciples. Consider the episode in the 16th chapter of Matthew:

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 on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

Jesus’ disciples were pretty excited about the visible dominance of Jesus. They appreciated his healings, exorcisms, feedings, and teachings. It was a delight to see the Pharisees cower and run for cover. Oh, how they longed to see Israel reclaim her freedom and greatness. Rightly, they wanted the world to gaze with amazement upon their “one nation under Christ.”

However, Jesus rained on their parade. He showed his disciples that tests, trials, and tribulations were around the corner; suffering and persecution was nigh. A season was coming in which god-fearing leaders would be dominated by foolishly brazen antichrists. Israel, Christ’s favorite nation, would act foolishly and suffer much. And Christ’s Church – his visible earthly family would be persecuted and appear to lose momentum. This was tough news to swallow, but this was the prophetic utterance of Jesus.

To this news, the disciples should have responded with faith, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.”

However, Simon Peter rebuked Jesus. He did not appreciate the Master’s sovereign plan. It did not seem wise. It was not preferable. It was not what he had hoped or imagined. Peter uttered out loud what the other fellows only thought, “Far be it, Lord, this shall never happen.” Bottom line, “This is not acceptable!”

Peter was thinking devilishly.

As a teacher, he was not being helpful; he was a hindrance.

His mind was not set on the things of God. His heart was set on the things of men. He was overly focused on politics, prosperity, and progeny. He was too consumed with the earthly, visible, tangible, physical, national, and material expressions of God’s kingdom. And he had no regard for God’s mysterious plan in exalting Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Romans. He rebuked Christ, and then Christ rebuked him.

Get behind me, Satan!

So friends, the question is before us today — do we have our minds set on the things of God? Is it time for spiritual recalibration? Do we need to remember what we say we believe? Today, this week, can we hear the loving but serious Teacher calling us to trust him? Can we hear him reminding us to seek first the kingdom of God? Are we willing to pay any price to see God’s name glorified and kingdom expanded? Today, do we really believe Jesus is sovereign, and that he has the whole world in his hands? Friends, let us look at our emotions. Then, let us look at our social media posts and shares. Let us see our devilish despair and lack of faith. Friends, it’s time for a spiritual recalibration. Jesus is King, and he is not yet through with the United States of America.

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