Setting our Minds on God

Matthew 16:21-23 ESV

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man’.”

Jesus’ Earthly Ministry

Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human form, and when he was about 30 years old he began his earthly ministry with the twelve men he chose to follow him. They were his disciples, and they ministered alongside Jesus for about 3 years.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry he performed many miracles. He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish, he healed the sick and afflicted, he raised the dead back to life, and he delivered people from demons. He also comforted the sorrowful.

He preached many sermons, too. He began with “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven (of God) is at hand.” He taught that to follow him we had to deny self, die daily to sin and self, and follow him in obedience. And he taught that following him meant we will suffer with him like he suffered.

He also taught that following him meant giving up everything to follow him. It means total surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and it means dying with him to sin and living to him and to his righteousness. And it means not looking back, but only forward.

Jesus also called sin what it is, he confronted people in their sins, and he called them to repentance, and he warned if they did not repent that they would not inherit eternal life. He was extremely hard on the hypocritical leaders in the temple of God, and he did not mince words with them.

Jesus had many people who followed him superficially because of the miracles that he performed, but many of them later deserted him when his messages became too hard for them to accept.

[Lu 9:23-26, 57-62; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Lu 14:25-33; Matt 10:37-38]

Jesus’ suffering and Death

But Jesus had enemies. Yet, they weren’t people unfamiliar to him. Some were his family members, and members of his community. And they were people of the same race and religion, some of whom may have also been his neighbors. But the primary ones were the rulers and people of influence within the temple of God who were also the teachers of the law.

They hated Jesus with a passion, and they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, no matter how superficial that may have been. They also didn’t like him because he told them the truth about themselves, and that offended them. And they hated him because he claimed to be God (Jn 8:24, 58; Jn 10:30-33; Jn 11:47-48).

Therefore, they hounded Jesus continuously, following him just so they would have cause to accuse him. They tried often to trick him and to trip him up with his words. And they were all the time after him because he healed people on the Sabbath, although they would rescue an animal on the Sabbath, so they were being hypocritical.

Finally, they arranged to have him put to death on a cross, i.e., to have him crucified as though he was a common criminal. As part of this move they also persuaded the crowds to turn against him and to call for his crucifixion. And they convinced the Romans to carry out his execution. So, Jesus died on a cross just like the Scriptures had prophesied that he would.

But the good news is that he didn’t remain dead, but that on the third day he was resurrected from the dead, just as the Scriptures had prophesied he would, and as Jesus had said would happen to him, too. But the good news is also that, in his death, he provided the way for us to be forgiven our sins, to be delivered from bondage to sin, and to live for the glory of God.

For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood for us to buy us back for God so that we would now be God’s possession and so we would honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20).

The Denials

When Jesus told his disciples that he would suffer and die and be raised from the dead, Peter rebuked the Lord for suggesting such a thing. But that rebuke truly came from Satan who just used Peter as his messenger of the moment. But it was certainly true that Peter had his mind on the things of man, and on the things of this earth, and at that moment he was not setting his mind on the things of God, so he was a hindrance to the Lord.

Peter was also convinced that he would die with Jesus, but Jesus obviously knew better. So, Jesus told Peter that he was going to deny Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed. But Peter did not believe Jesus’ words to him, and he did exactly as Jesus had said that he would.

But before that, Judas, one of Jesus’ other disciples, betrayed him to death for a price, and he arranged to have Jesus arrested, which then led to his mock trial, and his beatings, and then to his crucifixion. And when they arrested Jesus, all his disciples deserted him. John was at the cross with Jesus’ mother, though.

And many people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who are claiming to be his followers (his disciples), are denying him as Lord (owner-master) of their lives, and they are deserting the Lord, for they are setting their minds on the things of man, and on the things of this world, rather than setting their minds on the things of God.

Thus, they are also rejecting the gospel that Jesus and his apostles taught, in favor of a half-truth man-created gospel which tickles itching ears. They are not counting the cost of following Jesus, because they believe there is no cost. So, they are wandering off to follow after the ways of the flesh, instead, and they are refusing to leave their sins behind to follow Jesus in obedience.

But the truth that is in Christ Jesus is that we must deny self, die with Jesus to sin, and live to Christ and to his righteousness. We must put our old lives behind us, be renewed in our minds, and we must put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. And Jesus must be our Lord, and our lives are to be surrendered to him.

So, if you have not surrendered your life to Jesus, I pray you would today.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2]

The Great Redeemer

Lyrics by Francis Foster, 1915
Music by Samuel W. Beazley, 1915

How I love the great Redeemer
Who is doing so much for me;
With what joy I tell the story
Of the love that makes men free.
Till my earthly life is ended,
I will send songs above,
Then beside the crystal sea
More and more my soul shall be
Praising Jesus and His love.

He has purchased my redemption,
Rolled my burden of sin away,
And is walking on beside me,
Growing dearer day by day.
That is why I sing His praises,
That is why joy is mine,
That is why forevermore
On the everlasting shore
I shall sing of love divine.

Glory be to Him forever!
Endless praises to Christ the Lamb!
He has filled my life with sunshine,
He has made me what I am.
Oh, that everyone would know Him,
Oh, that all would adore!
Oh, that all would trust the love
Of the mighty Friend above
And be His forevermore.

He is everything to me, to me,
He is everything to me,
And everything shall always be;
I will never cease to raise
A song of gladness in His praise;
Here, and in the world above,
My soul shall sing of saving love;
Life and light and joy is He,
The precious Friend who died for me.

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