The Answer

Can we receive a challenge to our entire world view?

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” 

Matthew 16:4

Pharisees considered themselves righteous. Paul said of himself, “As for legalistic righteousness [I was] faultless.” Jesus’ view of them as wicked and adulterous meant their view of life was fundamentally wrong.

We are adulterous when we follow a path other than Jesus. We are wicked when we are so sure of our path that we persuade others onto it. Pharisees elevated their reading of the Bible. What path do we elevate? Path to God? Environmental action? Political opinions? ..?

We know we are on an adulterous way when we catch ourselves denying compassion or honesty to those of an opposite persuasion. We know what the way is by the congratulations we embrace.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Matthew 16:6

This is not just a personal quirk. Jesus says such influences are to be guarded against.

Given this context, Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is extraordinary.

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:16

Peter is throwing away all credibility. This is an “All in” moment. Am I willing, at the cost of my credibility, to lift up Jesus as the only answer for the world’s problems?

More to life than this.

“There has to be more to life than this?”, is the cry of many who apparently have it all. Jesus says-

“I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

So, what keeps us from it? Jesus began-

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”

The ‘thief’ offers experiences to dull our pain. We take them, expecting fulfilment but find emptiness. Abundant life does not come through experiences, it is given to Jesus’ disciples.

‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

There can be a great thrill when we begin following Jesus. There comes a time however, when he presents a choice: Jesus for his own sake, or all the things and experiences which I think give life. If I choose ‘my life’ then I discover this truth-

‘What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’ (Matthew 16:26)

What I thought would bring life, opens me to the thief and I am left with an empty soul. When I choose Jesus, it seems like I am choosing hardship, yet after walking with him, I discover as I look back that his gracious provision and fellowship has transformed that path into abundant life.