Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lent 2: Avoiding the Peter Problem

Avoiding the Peter Problem

Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, "Look, I'm going to leave. And while I'm gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I'm away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip." Everyone agrees.

He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess--weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, "What happened? Didn't you get my letters?"
You say, "Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We've even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have 'letter study' every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters." I think the president would then ask, "But what did you do about my instructions?" And, no doubt the employees would respond, "Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!

• I wonder how many of you have had the Peter problem?
• During Lent, one of the issues we encounter is our relationship to God’s Word—the Scriptures. Will we read it? Will we hear it and become doers? Peter had a problem with the words of Jesus.
• Let’s take a closer look.

Mark 8:31-38

31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.


• For Peter—he heard the words Jesus was saying. Jesus was teaching that the cross and resurrection were the methods God had chosen to bring spiritual salvation to the world.
• The idea of a suffering savior offended… He thought Jesus should do it differently.
• Jesus is already rejected by the religious leaders--so Peter piles on rejecting the cross.
• Today--What words of God offend you? In our day—life, family, morality, intelligent design, some other doctrine or requirement to be a Christian.
• Peter rebukes God! Have you ever rebuked God? Why did you make it this way?
• Peter’s pride was saying he thought he knew better than God. The Peter problem is when your personal ego causes you to reject God’s Word and think you know better than God.


33But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

• Peter was thinking like the world which put him in league with Satan’s plan.
• In the wilderness temptations, Satan offered Jesus the Kingdoms of the world if he would turn away from God the Father’s plan for him to suffer as the sacrificial lamb to atone for sin.
• Now Peter is tempting him to do the same thing!
• God’s Word is usually simple and as to understand—don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat on your spouse, all have sinned and the paycheck you get for working for sin is eternal death, you must be born again if you want to go to heaven. Straightforward…
• Jesus was giving the straight Gospel to his disciples—he will die in our place as an innocent victim to remove the guilt of sin from us, and then he will rise again 3 days later—Good Friday > Easter
• What was Peter’s response to the Gospel? No, that’s not the Gospel! I have a better plan.
• So many have a better plan. If we can just elect right people to government and take over…
• How about—forget about sin, let’s just all get along, sing kumbaya, make smores > universalism
• Then there are all kinds of other religious ideas, philosophies, etc> No sin, cross, resurrection.
• Jesus says those kinds of ideas are men’s ways and not God’s ways. God has one way.
• God came from heaven to earth, became fully a man while remaining fully God, loved us enough to teach us the way to eternal life >
o Only perfect obedience merits eternal life. Sin is rejecting God thinking you know better. Salvation occurs when the perfect life Jesus lived is credited to your account…
o Sin separates from God and each other and is the cause of all forms of death—physical, spiritual, relational, financial, political, etc. No sin can enter heaven.
o Only an innocent could offer to take the place of a guilty party and pay the debt of sin.
o Jesus did just that for us on Good Friday. He took the debt of sin we owed God, and paid it to clear our ledger before God. So the cross profited us eternal life.
o Peter was having none of this silliness.
• What do you think about the Gospel? Are you an accepter or rejecter?


34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” – NKJV

• Peter and the crowds are now told the Gospel in straight language. All men are like Peter so we all need it spelled out then we need to make a decision.
• If you want to be a Jesus follower > Deny self—stop living selfishly > Take up the cross in your life
o Join the fight against sin > Become part of restoring the world to what God intended…
• This is a call to stop thinking like the world > Stop acting like the world > Having worldly goals
• The world is out for itself, it wants power, riches, pleasure, success, ease
• Jesus says there is a higher goal in life—your soul.
• Being focused only on the world’s goals causes people to lose their own soul by exchanging the less important for the more important.
• What is your price? At what point will you trade in God for something selfish or a worldly payout?
• We think we’ve got the life when we get the houses, cars, portfolios, clothes, status, power, fame—
• Whatever we think is most important—but lose our marriage, our kids, or don’t have time for life the way God has it ordered.
o Begin your week in worship—thanking God for life. Life is more than work and play.
o Have friendships with God’s people who will support you in life and help you stay on the right path, a pastor a guide and doctor of the soul.
• So for all of us with the Peter problem, and we all have it—the message is this:
• Peter’s problem was he thought he knew more than God, he had a better plan, a better way.
• Today began with a story. God has given us instructions and written us letters to tell us what to do till he comes to take us to be with him in heaven.
• Start reading the letters. Then, don’t just read the letters, do what they say. In this season of Lent, let’s really start living the Christian life our The Gospel calls us to hear, read, obey, and do…
• Where in your life do think you know better than doing what God’s Word says?
• Where do you think you know better than God? Where do you think the Bible doesn’t apply to you but everyone else? Where you think you can be like Peter and tell Jesus how to run things?
• That is the place in your life where the Peter Problem is infecting you. As doctor of souls, my job is to get you spiritually healthy and keep you that way.
• When we have the Peter Problem, Jesus made the first diagnosis of its cause—we have our mind set on the things of the world and not on the things of God.
• The treatment plan is this—stop living selfishly in pride thinking you know better than God, start and knowing doing God’s Word, kill your sins, and follow the Jesus way of life.
• ON Good Friday this year, we can take up the cross and die to living selfishly. We can strop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Amen.

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