A lot of times we hear how we shouldn’t be stumbling blocks to other Christians. And of course, we often hear about how Christ is a stumbling block to those who reject him.
But how often are we stumbling blocks to Christ, and what he’s trying to accomplish? It’s the thought that came to me as I read this passage this morning.
Jesus told the disciples plainly that in order to accomplish God’s plan for him as Messiah, he must die.
All his disciples must have been shocked to hear this. They had never heard Jesus speak like this before, and they could not reconcile what they had just heard with their images of what a Messiah should be. They thought he would be bringing down the Roman government and setting Israel free from their rule. They thought that they would be his prime ministers in this new kingdom that Jesus would soon set up. But how could all this happen if Jesus were dead?
All this must have been running through the disciples’ minds, but as usual, it was Peter who spoke up first, saying,
Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you! (Matthew 16:22)
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if there are two words that should never go together, they are “No” and “Lord.” If Jesus really is your Lord, how can you possibly say, “No” or “Never” to him?
Jesus’ rebuke was immediate, and quite harsh.
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. (23)
How would you like to be called Satan? That’s exactly what Jesus called Peter, for it was Satan’s words coming out of Peter’s mouth. Jesus was set on the cross to die for our salvation. And Peter was dead set against it. He kept that attitude all the way to the garden of Gethsemane when he tried to attack (quite clumsily) the people who were arresting Jesus. But in taking that attitude, he was a stumbling block to Jesus and what Jesus was trying to accomplish. He wasn’t shaping his way of thinking to match Jesus’. Rather, he tried to shape Jesus’ thoughts to his.
How about you? As you live your life, do you have in mind the things of God, or the things of men? Are you shaping your plans to match God’s? Or are you trying to shape God to match your plans? Are you doing God’s will? Or are you doing your own will in God’s name?
Lord, let me never be a stumbling block to you. Let me never be so focused on myself and my plans, that I fail to see what you’re trying to accomplish, or worse, to become an obstacle to what you’re doing. Forgive me for the times when I had in mind the things of men, rather than the things of you. Shape me. Mold me. And help me to live each day, each moment, following you. In Jesus name, amen.