Ancient Proverb —
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” — Proverbs 12:1
God Brings Good Out of Bad
After a couple years of ministry, “. . . Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ “ (Matthew 16:21-23)
Jesus rebuked Peter because he was determined to prevent Jesus’ death. When Jesus said that He would soon be killed, Peter could not believe his ears. How could Jesus, the promised Messiah, be put to death by Israel’s religious leaders? To show his adoration and loyalty, Peter privately informed Jesus that he and the other disciples were prepared to do whatever it took to save Jesus from death.
Peter said, “Never, Lord! [Over our dead bodies!] This will never happen to you!” (Insertion mine) Jesus looked into the earnest face of Peter and said, “Get behind me you adversary. You are a stumbling block to me. . . .” Peter must have been stunned to hear Jesus utter these words. Of course, Jesus knew that Peter meant well, but Peter’s desire to keep Jesus from death came from human wisdom. Peter did not understand God’s larger objectives nor the importance of Jesus’ rendezvous with death.
As predicted in Daniel 9, Jesus began His ministry during the first year of the seventieth week (A.D. 27). He came to Earth on a two-pronged mission. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God on Earth and to pay for the plan of salvation with His own blood. Like most Jews (Luke 3), Peter anxiously anticipated the establishment of God’s kingdom, but he did not understand that Messiah must be killed for our sins.
This is paradoxical. Peter must have attended hundreds of temple services where lambs were offered as sacrifices on the Altar of Burnt Offering. How is it possible that he never associated the death of lambs with the death of the Lamb of God? When he assured Jesus that he would not die, Peter’s ignorance was exposed and his willingness to thwart the death of Jesus positioned Peter on the side of Satan, the adversary of God’s plans. Therefore, Jesus called Peter, “Satan.”
Peter’s experience brings up a profound point. God has plans and it can be difficult to tell what God’s plan is. Peter thought he was doing good by offering moral support and protection to Jesus, but Jesus shredded Peter’s initiative with a simple phrase. “. . . . you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Two thousand years later, these words speak volumes. God’s ways are so different than our ways. God’s plans are much bigger than our plans. God’s view of life is different than our view.
For example, from man’s perspective, the death of Jesus was horrible, but God used it to secure salvation for a whole world. From man’s perspective, the hostility and rebellion of Israel’s religious leaders was horrible, but God used their actions to distinguish truth from tradition. From man’s perspective, the persecution of early Christians was horrible, but God used religious hatred to separate converts from their religious baggage. From man’s perspective, the apostasy of the Christian Church has been horrible, but God used the blood of martyrs to exalt and hallow the importance of Bible truth.
The objectives of God are quite different than the objectives of man and this difference causes conflict. Life does not always turn out like we think it should because a very observant and interested God rules and overrules for our greater benefit. Sometimes God overrules nations (He sets them up and takes them down) and God sometimes overrules individuals (by turning their plans into rubbish). Remember Pharaoh’s plans? Remember Job’s questions? Remember Jonah’s plan?
God is a Master at working out His plans. “. . . All things work together for good to them that love God. . . .” (Romans 8:28) This does not mean that all things will work out like we want them to work out. Instead, it means that God works through all things for our highest good.
Out of every adversity, God manages to bring forth a higher good. In every death, God manages to bring forth another life. In every loss, God manages to produce a gain. This was the key point that Peter had to learn. God has plans and they do not conform to the thoughts and wishes of men. So, how can we tell when our plans are at cross purposes with God’s plans? The answer is simple. Our plans do not work out. I cannot think of any story in the Bible where man succeeded and God failed. Can you?