As a young child, my mother would tell me to “Put on your thinking cap” when I had to solve a problem. Jesus says something of the same thing to Peter, but much more directly. How do we develop a kingdom mindset? This brief look at the an encounter between Peter and Jesus might give us some clues about developing a kingdom mindset.
Developing a Kingdom Mindset
21 From that time on 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.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 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.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life[h] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” — Matthew 16:21-28 NIV’84
From Demonstration to Decision
During these summer months we have been looking at various passages from the Gospel of Matthew, thinking together about the Kingdom of God; or, as Matthew calls it, the Kingdom of Heaven. We have looked primarily at the words and actions of Jesus that demonstrated the kingdom of God.
We have seen Jesus teach about the kingdom. Matthew in chapters 5-7, records the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon is the compendium, the substance, of the Jesus’ Kingdom teachings. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to lay out the ethical and spiritual distinctives of the Kingdom. These are characteristics that distinguish the Kingdom of God, which he has come to both announce and inaugurate, from the current practice of first century Judaism.
But Jesus does more in Matthew’s Gospel than just teach about the Kingdom. He presents a kingdom mindset.
We have seen him demonstrate what life will be like in the Kingdom of God by healing the paralyzed man by first forgiving his sins. We have seen Jesus call disciples to follow him, to learn from him, and to embrace life in this Kingdom, which will stand in contrast to the world in which he and they now live.
We have seen Jesus describe the Kingdom of God using parables like the sower and the soils, the wheat and the weeds, and the treasure in the field. We have seen Jesus demonstrate the abundance of the Kingdom of Heaven by feeding 5,000, and then on another occasion by feeding 4,000 people. We have seen the King of the Kingdom, Jesus, exercise his dominion over the created elements by walking on water.
And last week we saw Jesus prod the disciples to verbalize who he really was. And it was Peter who got it out first with his confession – “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
So we have seen Jesus gently, yet persistently teach, demonstrate, and clarify the ideas and actions of the Kingdom of God before his disciples.
But today we come to the hinge point of Jesus’ ministry – the point at which he moves from demonstrating the Kingdom of God for his disciples, and begins to push them toward their own decision regarding their place in the Kingdom.
As I just mentioned, Peter’s confession of Christ was the first public acknowledgement by the disciples that Jesus was the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. But an acknowledgment is one thing for even Satan recognized who Jesus was.
No, Jesus needed for the disciples to do much more than acknowledge him as the Christ. His teaching and demonstration of the Kingdom was to lead them to a point of decision, a point of commitment that heretofore they had not made.