Praying hands

by Gustav Krös

Sometime last year, I noticed for the first time how in the space of five verses Peter falls from being called ‘the rock’ on which the Lord will build His Church, to being called ‘Satan’ and ‘a stumbling block’. In Matthew 16:16 Peter declares for the first time that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. In response to this answer from Peter, the Lord tells him in verse 18: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

In verse 21 we are then told: “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.” Peter then takes Jesus aside and rebukes him with the words: “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!” To which, Jesus responded: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.

This is quite significant to me. How can Peter get it so right in the one instance, and then get it so wrong only five verses later? Surely it would have made sense to him that he should prevent Jesus from being killed. This would sound like the right response in most cases, and yet Peter gets scolded for this comment because, as we are told in Isaiah 55:8, “The Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and neither is our ways, His ways.”

The challenge for us as Christians is discerning the will of God. When Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus’s first words to him in verse 17 are “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” With the following incident, when Peter is called a ‘stumbling block’, Jesus concludes with the words: “you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter’s thoughts were so noble, he wanted to prevent Jesus from being killed, but this was not in line with God’s will.

The one moment, Peter was speaking the words that God had revealed to him, but just because he got it right then, did not mean that every thought and word thereafter would be from God as well. He remains human, and in the next instance he thought he was saying the right thing again, but unfortunately this time he was speaking out of his human concerns. How often do we as Christian make the mistake of following our own human thoughts, because it sounds so right and holy? Even though you want to do it with the right motive, to honour God, yet His plan for you is actually something quite different.

We see this so clearly with David in 1 Chronicles 17 and 22, where he wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but the Lord told him that it is not His will for David to build the temple, but rather that Solomon will build it. I am sure David’s motivation was pure for building the temple, and that he wanted to do it to the glory of God, but it was not God’s will for David to build the temple. God’s will for David was different to David’s will for God.

This is a challenge that every Christian will face throughout their lifetime. To take every thought captive, and to prayerfully discern whether these are human thoughts or God-inspired thoughts. The true essence in glorifying God lies in doing His will, and the consequences for not doing it can be quite severe, as we read in Matthew  7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

This scripture might sound very harsh, but the key lies in verse 23 where the Lord says: “I never knew you.” He does not want us to simply do good deeds; He wants us to dwell in relationship with Him. He has opened the door for us to approach Him, and ask Him: “Lord, what is your will in this matter?” I do not want to build temples, prophesy, drive out demons, and perform miracles if it is not His will for me.

Our God is an intimate God, with a very specific plan, and He wants to make us part of His plans in very specific ways. If we truly love Him and want to make sure our activities will bring glory to His Name, then we must be certain that we are actually doing His will and not our own. So, let’s acknowledge that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9), and the next time a ‘good idea’ crosses our mind, rather take it prayerfully to the Lord, and make sure His will is done.



Image: Pixabay/James Chan


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www.incontextinternational.org; gustav@incontextministries.org