Discernment Training

Message:  In Matthew 16 Jesus was teaching them about discernment and understanding. He used the sky for an example and how we can determine the weather approaching by the color and look of the sky. Then he used another example. He had previously told the disciples to bring along the leftover bread from feeding the crowds of people. They had forgotten the bread so when Jesus told them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they were so hung up on the bread that they didn’t pick up on what Jesus was really telling them- which was to beware of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees! Next, he got a little deeper by asking them what people were speculating about him. “Whom do people say I am?” They answered a few names before Jesus asked them directly “who do you say that I am?” This is when Peter suddenly understood and revealed him as the Messiah. Jesus affirmed and told Peter he was blessed because flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but this was shown to him by the Father in Heaven. The beautiful thing that happened here was that once Peter knew who Jesus was, Jesus was also able to tell Peter who he was. Thinking about the power in this I realized that we go our entire lives trying to understand, define and identify ourselves, but we will never understand our own identity until we know who Jesus is. Jesus was teaching them with each thing how to discern and understand these things because bigger things were coming. He was about to start telling them that he would die and rise again. This was the plan of God and they were not yet able to recognize or understand it. This was so evident that when Jesus said this, Peter, who had just identified him as the Messiah couldn’t grasp the idea of a death and resurrection. When Jesus said he would die at the hands of the religious, Peter responded out of his own fear and his own perception of the plans and he told Jesus “No! This will never happen to you!” Jesus immediately rebuked Satan for his influence and said “you are an offense to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.” As I backed up the focus of all of this I realized how hyper-focused we become on our earthly perspective. We see and feel things from the view of being human and we determine what we believe is good or bad based upon human and emotional understanding. Jesus was trying to teach them to discern things from a spiritual perspective. Though it was true they had forgotten the bread, they had just seen Jesus create enough bread out of scraps to feed a multitude because he was literally the source, yet they were kicking themselves for forgetting to bring the scraps. He had just revealed himself as the Messiah, but they couldn’t fathom that a physical death would result in spiritual life. He was trying to teach them to see beyond what feels right on a human level. There is so much about this world that we don’t understand from a human perspective and we try to reconcile our puny human understanding of justice with God’s eternal plans for it and we just can’t wrap our minds around it. We want Jesus to set things in order here on the earth but he’s trying to accomplish something much, much bigger. He’s trying to tell us to stop getting hung up on the “bread” and fix our eyes on him because he is the bread of life and he wants to do something far more amazing and if we are willing to discern it, we just might catch the vision of what is happening right in front of us.

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