Message: Throughout Matthew 16 we see lots of confusion over signs and interpretations of all kinds. The Pharisees (with insincere motivations) asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven and Jesus responded by telling them that although they know how to interpret natural signs for things like weather, they don’t know how to interpret spiritual signs. Then when Jesus and the disciples were in the boat he cautioned them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees and they thought he was scolding them because they forgot to bring bread. They didn’t understand the spiritual interpretation that Jesus was trying to show them about the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. But then a while later Peter has this miraculous moment when Jesus asks them who they think he is. Peter blurts out that he is the Messiah and Jesus confirms that not only was he spot on, but that this was revealed to him only by God. Just six verses later after Jesus reveals that he will have to suffer, die and will resurrect we see Peter pull Jesus aside and rebuke him telling him “never Lord” and Jesus rebukes Satan in that moment for his influence. My point in all of this is that our own understanding can’t be trusted. We judge situations as good or bad based on how they make us feel, or the pain it will cause. We base our judgment upon our own perceptions, emotions, experiences, pain or even joy. This is why we have to be so careful about how and what we pray. Most of the things that have happened for our good, we would have never chosen for ourselves because our flesh nature is to avoid discomfort. This is why Jesus followed his rebuke of Peter by telling them (and us) that whoever wants to be his disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow him because whoever wants to save his own life will lose it in the pursuit, but whoever loses their life for his sake will end up finding it. This is so backwards and upside down to our instinct.
Command: Don’t trust my own interpretations of things apart from the Holy Spirit because my flesh is prone to reject pain and discomfort and it doesn’t always discern the difference.
Promise: We are promised that if we lose our lives in pursuit of following him, we will end up finding it.
Warning: If we trust our own interpretations for things we may find ourselves working against the plans of God, and if we live in pursuit of trying to preserve our own lives (chasing happiness, comfort and security etc) we will lose it.
Application: Lord Jesus please reveal to me the evil motives in my heart that are working against your plan and the things I am still chasing after instead of you. Thank you Holy Spirit for being my teacher so I don’t have to trust or rely on my own interpretations for things. Help me to come to you first before taking on a prideful humanistic view.