Written by Brad Shockley
In a stinging rebuke Jesus tells Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Mt. 16:23). How can this be? We know Peter was a very bold and courageous disciple. He has just been commended by Jesus for his confession (Mt. 16:16-19). Yet he is now being reprimanded by the Lord for having his mind on things of men instead of “the things that be of God.” Peter’s failure on this occasion is not savoring the things of God.
The Greek word translated “savour” is defined by Thayer as, “to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek or strive for.” Thayer adds, “…to be intent on promoting what God wills (specifically his saving purposes), and what pleases men.” Peter’s problem? He is focusing on pleasing men instead of God. As a friend and follower of Jesus, it is not pleasing to Peter to contemplate his Lord’s persecution and death. Peter does not yet comprehend the Lord’s design in these events.
Notice the immediate context, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” (Mt. 16:21). Jesus is trying to explain to his disciples the importance of the events about to transpire. Peter is very concerned for a close friend and companion and he vows, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (v. 22). Peter was not about to let somebody take the life of Jesus. In his hasty action of rebuking the Lord he missed a very critical element of the Lord’s teaching: “…and be raised again the third day.”
The greatest of all historical events center on the cross of Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus are focal points in Christian doctrine. Without the death, burial and resurrection of Christ what is there? Without the gospel there is no hope, freedom, liberation and life; a tragic state of affairs. Life and all it entails would be meaningless. In this passage, Jesus is simply teaching His disciples about what lay ahead—the events that would bring into reality the glorious gospel of redemption.
It would be wrong to assert that Peter was not spiritually minded. However, from time to time he took his eye off the goal. He missed some key things. Sometimes we fall into the same trap. We can be guilty of not savoring the things of God. We must resolve to always savor the things of God. Let us notice a few things of God we should be savoring.
The Gospel of Christ
The gospel is powerful and life changing. Jesus commissioned his disciples to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk. 16:15). Often termed The Great Commission this command given to the early disciples was seriously considered and obeyed. In a time absent of mass media, transit and worldwide connections the followers of Jesus turned the world upside down. They boldly declared the simple truth of salvation and redemption. Despite flame, sword, shackles and hardship they continued steadfastly each day to present the glorious gospel of Christ. They fully understood nothing held a greater importance thus they gave all to make this proclamation.
Paul declares in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” Paul also mentions the gospel of salvation the Corinthians received through his preaching and were to stand in:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
The gospel is the means in which God shows His supreme authority over sin. God’s saving grace is made manifest through one’s obedience to the gospel. The Corinthians had received the life giving power; they stood in it and were saved! We find salvation today by accepting this wonderful message and submitting ourselves in obedience to it through the form of baptism.
The world contains nothing more precious than Jesus and His glorious gospel. Heaven, eternity and things that fade not away can only be purchased with the precious blood of Christ. Gold, silver and the currency of this world will eventually burn up. It is at the second coming of Christ we see the true value of money versus the blood of Christ. Knowing the great treasure we have found it is our duty to share it with those we have contact with. Sharing the gospel is something we can all do, yet we often find it difficult. Is it not interesting we have the time to enjoy our favorite hobbies and television shows yet not the time to share the good news with a neighbor?
The Word of God
The Word of God is a special blessing to humanity. It is the means by which God communicates to us His Divine will, commands, blessings and wonderful wisdom. The Scriptures were given unto us through inspiration that we might have all we need. Paul informs, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Writ was provided by the Creator Himself! God cares for you and I so much He gave us all instruction to be complete, thoroughly furnished. Indeed, something worth savoring!
The Word of God offers the means by which we provide evidence of our love for our Savior. Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). The Word shares with us commands to obey and the wonderful blessing of promises made. Most of the people I know assert their love for Jesus yet fail to prove that devotion by obedience. To show your appreciation and dedication to Christ you simply follow His instructions. It is not that difficult of a task yet many are among those mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
What a heartbreaking situation when one claims Jesus is their Lord, only to hear, “depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Hebrews 4:12 informs us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Hebrew author aptly draws our attention to the fact that God’s word is “quick.” The term quick is defined by Thayer as, “to live, be among the living, be alive (not lifeless, not dead).” The Holy Word is not an ancient out of date piece of literature; it is lively and stands even to this day as pertinent to our spiritual lives. Acts 7:38 declares it as, “lively oracles.” Peter enlightens us about God’s word which, “liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:23). Even though we see societal and cultural shifts God’s word still stands. It is alive and well, indeed a powerful discerner of our lives.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to read the morning paper, news items on the internet, magazines which come in the mail, and the latest best selling novel? Why, then, is it so hard to ready just a few chapters out of our Bibles each day? We easily read a 500 page novel in a week, yet struggle to read through the Bible in a year. Let us savor the Word of God.
The church and her importance have rapidly escaped us. Consider the number of people who once filled the pews but are no longer there. The church was purchased by Christ, He gave Himself for her. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Through His sacrifice and shed blood Jesus paid the price for the church to come into existence. He loves the church so much so He gave everything. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Eph. 5:25). Jesus was willing to give all for the church and we should reflect His attitude. How blessed we would be if the selfless life of Christ would be reflected in our own.
The church is the means by which we understand God’s wisdom. Ephesians 3:10, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” Attending the services of the church is edifying and spiritually strengthening. We come away with a deeper knowledge and better understanding of God’s will. The Christians in Antioch serve as an example “that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people” (Acts 11:26). The church informs and educates. Every time one attends the services of the church they should expect to learn. No greater educational value can one receive than to comprehend God’s intent and will.
It is unfortunate the lack of respect shown the church in our times. We have little time to attend services and gospel meetings. It is difficult to show up on time and be enthused. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to attend a ballgame, a concert, or go to the mall one hundred miles away, yet so hard to make midweek services? Let us savor the opportunity to attend the services of the church and respect her like the Lord desires.
Thayer, Joseph H., Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.