Peter and the Rock

Peter and the Rock

Scripture: Matthew 16:15, Ephesians 2:20, Hebrews 7:26
Date: 05/21/2016  Lesson: 8
"Peter and the disciples were gradually learning what true faith is. True faith isn't supposed to be the exciting experience of pursuing what you most want. True faith is the painful experience of releasing what you most want."
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Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. We are thrilled that you have joined us again to study God's word together. We are going to start out by singing together so pull out your hymnals - #246 - worthy, worthy is the lamb - and we're going to sing all three verses - hymn #246. Worthy, worthy is the lamb, worthy, worthy is the lamb; worthy, worthy is the lamb that was slain. Glory, hallelujah! Praise him, hallelujah! Glory hallelujah to the lamb! Savior, let thy kingdom come! Now the power of sin consume; bring thy blest millennium, holy lamb.

Glory, hallelujah! Praise him, hallelujah! Glory hallelujah to the lamb! Thus may we each moment feel, love him, serve him, praise him still. Till we all on Zion's hill see the lamb. Glory, hallelujah! Praise him, hallelujah! Glory hallelujah to the lamb! What a privilege it is to sing to him every single day. We don't have to do it just on Sabbath, but every day, throughout the day, we should be singing praises to him for what he has done. Let's pray.

Our Father in Heaven, thank you so much for this opportunity to learn more about you - to study together as a world-wide family, knowing full well that you are about to break through those clouds and take us all home. So Lord, help us to apply these things we learn today. We give you honor, we give you praise and glory, that you are our personal Savior and that you live right in our hearts. Thank you so much for just loving us - for your mercy and your grace that is long suffering and we just thank you that we can study and learn and have the promise to live with you forever. We pray these things in your holy name, Jesus, amen.

At this time, Pastor Ross will bring us our study. Good morning everyone and welcome to Sabbath school study hour. Again, a very warm welcome to the members here of the Granite Bay church and those who are visiting with us today and also our friends who are a part of our extended Sabbath school class around the country and around the world - a very warm welcome to you. Just a reminder, it was mentioned a few moments ago. We do have a free offer that goes along with our study today.

It's a book, written by Pastor Doug Batchelor, called determining the will of God. For those of you who are watching here in North America, you just need to call our resource number. The number there is 866-788-3966 and, again, ask for the free offer - it's #778 - we'll be happy to send that to you. And those outside of North America, you can download a pdf copy of this book online at the Amazing Facts website. Well, today, we find ourselves in our study dealing with the Gospel of Matthew.

We're in lesson #8 and our lesson is entitled Peter and the rock - it's a fascinating study together. If you have your lesson quarterly, you can turn to our Scripture reading, which is right there at the beginning of our study - it's Matthew chapter , verse 15, and it's the words of Jesus. Jesus said, "'but what about you?' He asked. 'Who do you say I am?'" Now Peter is the one that answers the question that Jesus asks the disciples. And there are two statements of Peter that we're going to be looking at, sort of forming the focus of our study in this week's lesson.

On Sabbath afternoon there is an introductory statement there. It's the second paragraph, if you're following along with the lesson. It says that the new testament is clear Jesus had to die. As he faced the looming shadow of the cross, Jesus prayed - and this is in John chapter 12:27, "now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour' no, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.'" This was the divine plan conceived in the mind of God even before time began. So here we find Jesus setting his face, as the Bible says, toward Jerusalem and he's journeying to that supreme purpose why he came - to give his life an atoning sacrifice for man's sin.

This week, we're going to pick up the story of Jesus, but we're going to focus more on the experience of Jesus' journey to calvary, but from the perspective of Peter. How did the disciples respond to this idea that Jesus, their Lord, their teacher, their Messiah, was to lay down his life? Little bit about Peter: out of all of the disciples, Peter seems to be the one that took the lead on a number of things. Peter was a person of strength. He had strength of leadership. Whenever the disciples are listed, Peter's name always seems to come up first - Peter, James, then John and then the other disciples.

He was also one of the group that got to share some very special experiences with Jesus, along with James and John. On one occasion, Jesus and the disciples were in the area of Galilee and a ruler of the synagogue came to Jesus and said, 'my little girl, twelve years of age, is home very sick. Please come and heal her.' And Jesus said he would. And as he journeyed to the man's house, there was a woman that reached out and touched the hem of Christ's garment and she was healed. You remember that story? And Jesus stopped and spoke to her, but then a message came from jairus' house that said, 'do not trouble the master anymore.

Your little girl has died.' And when Jesus heard that he said to jairus and the disciples, he said, 'do not be afraid. Only believe.' And then Jesus went to jairus' house and they came to the house and there were people weeping and wailing and there were the hired mourners that were there making all kinds of noise. Jesus said to them, 'do not make this a do, for the little girl is not dead, she is only sleeping.' And then suddenly they began to laugh at Jesus because they knew the girl was dead. But Jesus took Peter, James, and John and the parents and he went to the little girl's room and he took her by the hand and Jesus said, 'little girl, arise.' And she was resurrected. What an experience for Peter to witness - this little girl raised to life.

It was also Peter, along with James and John, that Jesus called apart from the other disciples and they went to a high mountain and they witnessed Jesus glorified before them. We're going to talk more about that story a little bit later on in our study today. In the garden of Gethsemane - again, it was Peter, James, and John that Jesus separated from the other disciples, brought them closer to where he was, they could hear Jesus pray those words, 'father, if it is possible, let this cup be removed from me.' Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done.' And Jesus asked those three, in particular, to pray during that time there in the garden of Gethsemane. On the day of pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, again, we have Peter taking the lead. He got up and he preached and the Bible tells us that 3,000 people were baptized.

Peter was also the spokesman of the group. In our study today - two important statements - Jesus asked the disciples, 'who do people say that I am?' And then Peter responds with reference to who he believes Jesus is. But then, just a little later in that same passage, we find Jesus having to rebuke Peter for something Peter says to Jesus. We'll get to that in just a few moments. But in addition to having strength of leadership, Peter was also the Spiritual adventurer of the group.

You remember the story where the disciples were in a little boat in the midst of a storm being tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves and they looked out and there was a bolt of lightning and they saw somebody walking on the water. And at first, who did they think that was? They thought it was a ghost or a spirit. But then it was Jesus and he said, 'do not be afraid. It is i.' And when Peter found out that it was Jesus walking on the water, what did Peter ask? He said, 'Lord, if it is you, bid me to come walking to you on the water.' Now, who else would have thought of that? Peter sees Jesus walking on the water he says, 'I want to do that too.' And Jesus says, 'come.' And Peter gets out of the boat and he walks on the water towards Jesus. Then he takes his eyes off Jesus and what happens to Peter? He begins to sink - and Jesus is there to lift him up.

He cries out, 'Lord, save me!' And Jesus is there to lift him up. So Peter was sort of the adventurer of the group. He wanted to do different things. At the time of Christ's arrest there in the garden of Gethsemane, it was Peter that jumped to the foreground and pulled out his sword and began to swing towards those priests and those rulers that came to arrest Jesus. Fortunately for Peter, though, all he was able to cut was just the high priest's servant's ear - he chopped it right off.

Jesus said, 'Peter, Peter, put away the sword.' And then he reached down and he picked up the ear and he placed it on the man's head and immediately the man was healed. So Peter was there, willing to take on the whole roman army, so long as Jesus and the disciples were there, but when Peter was all alone, it was a different story. Peter also had strength of body. He was used to hard work. He was used to rowing boats and pulling in nets.

Yet, in spite of all of these good qualities, we find Peter denying Jesus three times while keeping warm at the enemy's fire. He was strong when his friends were there, but he was weak when he was alone. Yet, despite these weaknesses, Jesus never gave up on Peter. Jesus kept leading and pulling and drawing Peter to himself. So it is with us.

I am so grateful Jesus does not give up on you and i, amen? How many times in our life have we, like Peter, taken our eyes off Jesus and begun to sink into sin and cry out 'Lord, save me.' And Jesus is there to lift us up. Jesus draws us to him - so kind, so gentle - working with us. And that's the way Jesus worked with Peter. Now a key area of study is going to be in Matthew chapter 16 and we're going to be looking at a question Jesus asked his disciples. Matthew chapter 16 - and we're going to start reading here in verse 13 - it says, "when Jesus came to the region of caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'who do people say The Son of man is?'" Now, incidentally, the area of caesarea Philippi was a territory outside of Israel.

So here, Jesus and his disciples, have made a little detour. They've gone outside of the territory of Israel and Jesus asks a question. You see, in the minds of the disciples they thought of Jesus as being the Messiah just to the jews. They didn't really understand that Jesus was the Messiah to the whole world. So it's interesting that Jesus asks the question here and he says, 'who do the people say that I am? Now why do you suppose Jesus asked this question? Didn't Jesus know what the people thought of him? Well, yes he did.

Jesus asked the question because he wanted the disciples to think about it. So what did the disciples say? So they answered and said, 'some say that you are John the baptist.' Now, by this time, John the baptist had been beheaded by herod and people looked at Jesus and at the work that Jesus was doing and they said 'this is John the baptist resurrected from the dead.' The people said, 'no, he's not John the baptist. He is Elijah.' Now why do you suppose people said that Jesus was Elijah? The reason for that is because of the prophecy that you find in the last book of the old testament - the book of Malachi - that says, 'behold, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord and he will turn the hearts of The Fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to The Fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' And so the jews were expecting that Elijah would come down from heaven and do a special work just prior to the establishment of the Kingdom that they believed to be a kingdom of glory upon the earth when the Messiah would come. Now, according to Jesus' own words, how was that prophecy fulfilled? By whom was that prophecy fulfilled with reference to preparation for Christ's first coming? Who came in the Spirit and power of Elijah? It was John the baptist. Now, do you suppose there will be a second revival - a second message that is to go to all the world - just before Jesus comes the second time? Yes.

Where do you find that message? You find it in Revelation chapter 14. We call it the three angels' message - a special Elijah message preparing the world for the second coming of Christ. Some of the people said, 'no, he is not Elijah, he is Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Now, I've often wondered why Jeremiah? We have some great old testament prophets. You have, for example, Elisha, you have Isaiah, but why Jeremiah? Well, if you look at the book Jeremiah, Jeremiah is often calling Israel to come to repentance.

Maybe the message that John the baptist preached and the message that Jesus preached, reminded the jews of Jeremiah the prophet that was always calling people to come to repentance. So they looked at Jesus and they said, 'this is Jeremiah resurrected from the dead.' They said, 'no, he's just one of the prophets.' Verse 15, 'Jesus said to them, 'but whom do you say I am?' In other words, Jesus said, 'I know what the people are saying about me, but who do you think I am? And then Peter answers, here in verse 16, "Simon Peter answered and said, 'you are the Christ, The Son of the living God.'" Very significant - the words that Peter spoke here - he said to Jesus, 'you are the Christ.' Now when we think of Jesus today, we think of him as being the Christ and rightfully so. It's interesting to note that there are some people that even think 'Christ' is the last name of Jesus, but that's not really true. You see, to the jew, Christ was the fulfillment of all of those old testament prophecies. The Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew 'Messiah'.

It means 'the anointed one' - the one that prophets had spoken of. The one that had been mentioned in the promise God gave to Abraham - the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one - he would come and he would liberate Israel from their enemies. He would rule on the throne of David. He would establish a kingdom that would last forever. But what the jews did not understand - and even the disciples at that time did not understand - that there were two phases to the Kingdom that Jesus, the Messiah, was about to establish.

The first phase, which is when Jesus came, is what we call the Kingdom of grace. Jesus did not come to liberate Israel from their enemies, the Romans, but Jesus came to liberate the human race from their greatest enemy, that being of satan. Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom and anywhere and everywhere where Jesus rules supreme, and if Jesus is ruling supreme in your heart, you are a citizen of the Kingdom of grace. It's not until the second coming that the Kingdom of glory is established, but the disciples and the religious leaders, they got confused about the nature of Christ's kingdom. They preferred the Kingdom of glory because they wanted to be liberated from their physical enemies.

They weren't that concerned about being liberated from their spiritual enemy, that of satan, sin and, ultimately, the second death. So, Peter here, moved upon by the Holy Spirit, says, 'you are the Christ. You are the fulfillment of all of those old testament prophecies.' They hoped that Jesus would soon establish a kingdom here on the earth that would come to no end. Jesus had to teach them the true nature of his kingdom. And then, in verse 17, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in heaven.

'" For a person to come to a clear understanding of who Jesus is, it's more than just accepting a set of historical facts. It's more than just saying, 'yes, Jesus came 2,000 years ago. He lived on the earth. He died for our sins.' But to really know Jesus as the Christ - as your personal deliverer - the one who can set you free from sin, it's really the moving of the Holy Spirit upon your heart and that's why Jesus said, 'this is not something that somebody told you, but God has revealed this to you. the Spirit has revealed this to you in your heart.

' And so Peter was able to say, 'Jesus is the Christ.' Now, where Peter declares Christ - or Jesus - to be the Christ, this is probably one of the highest points of Scripture, especially in the experience of Peter. Peter called Jesus 'the anointed one' - 'the Christ'. Jesus is the Messiah, the one who is the fulfillment of all those old testament promises. In Galatians 3:16 we read, "now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'and seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'and to your seed,' who is Christ.

" So Paul was quite clear here, writing Galatians, that the promise made to Abraham found its fulfillment in Jesus. He was indeed the Christ. Now Peter, filled with the holy spirit, he recognized that Jesus was something much more than just a Jewish prophet, that others had suggested. His ministry extended much further than the ministry of John the baptist, the ministry of Elijah, or Jeremiah - indeed, it was to encompass the whole of humanity, hence Jesus called himself The Son of man. That was Christ's most favorite saying with reference to himself.

He often spoke of himself as being The Son of man - not just The Son of Abraham - it wasn't just for the jews, but he was for all mankind. He was the Christ - the Messiah - the anointed one - for the whole world. Now, how did the disciples understand that Jesus was to be for everyone and not just for them? Did they have a hard time understanding that? Yes, they did. And there were several experiences in the ministry of Jesus where he tried to illustrate this important truth to the disciples. It wasn't really until after the resurrection that the disciples really began to realize that their mission wasn't just for the jews, but it was for the whole world.

In John chapter 4, we have the story of Jesus and the disciples journeying from Jerusalem up to Galilee. And the short way to go from Jerusalem - or Judea - to Galilee is to go straight up through the area of the samaritans. Most of the jews, when they traveled from the south to the north, they would travel around samaria because they tried to avoid contact with the samaritans because they didn't like the samaritans. Of course, the samaritans didn't like the jews either. But Jesus and his disciples are traveling straight up through the territory of samaria and it's the middle of the day.

It's very hot and they come to a town by the name of sychar and there was a very famous well just outside of the town. It is a well that Jacob had dug many, many years before. So Jesus stopped at the well to rest and the disciples went on into the town to buy food. While Jesus was at the well, a woman of samaria came and she - as if Jesus wasn't even there - she sort of ignored Jesus and she took her jar from her shoulder, tied the rope, and began to lower it down into the well. And then Jesus asked, he said, 'could you give me a drink?' And this samaritan woman was very surprised and she said, 'how is it that you, being a jew, ask of me, a samaritan woman, a drink?' And then Jesus said to her, 'if you would have known the gift of God and who it is that asked you for a drink, you would have asked of him and he would have given you living water.

' And then she said, 'sir, you have nothing to draw with and this well is very deep. Where are you going to get this living water?' And then Jesus spoke about a gift - a drink that he could give that would be a spring swelling up to everlasting life. She then said, 'sir, give me this water that I need not come out here to draw.' And Jesus said, 'go call your husband.' She said, 'I have no husband.' Then Jesus said, 'you've answered correctly for you've had five husbands and the one that you're with is not your husband.' She then said, 'sir, I perceive that you're a prophet.' And then she tried to change the conversation. She said, 'our forefathers say that here on mount gerizim we are to worship, but you jews say in Jerusalem.' She tried to get into a discussion about where you need to worship - where is the correct place for worship? But Jesus spoke to her the words of truth. She finally realized that the one she was talking to was, indeed, the Christ - the Messiah.

She left her water pot, ran back to the city, told all the people that she saw, 'come, meet a man that told me all things about my life - about what I've done - this is the Christ. Could this be the one?' Well, the disciples, just prior to leaving, arrived back where Jesus was talking to the woman and they were amazed that Jesus was speaking to a samaritan woman. They didn't say anything. And then after the woman left, Jesus was there in meditation. He didn't even drink water and they said to him, 'master, please eat.

' And Jesus said, 'I've eaten food that you do not know of.' They said, 'well, who gave him food?' Then Jesus explained. He said, 'my food is to do the will of my father and fulfill the work that he has sent me to do.' So Jesus is helping the disciples - trying to teach the disciples that his mission wasn't just for the jews, but his mission was for the whole world. It was slow for the disciples to understand this lesson. Interesting experience, near the end of Christ's ministry - this is some three and a half years later - Jesus and the disciples are traveling now from Galilee down to Jerusalem. It's the final journey where Jesus goes to Jerusalem.

And they're traveling through samaria and the disciples have gone on ahead to try to make preparations for a place for Jesus to stay, and they went to one of the samaritan villages, but the samaritan village didn't want Jesus to stay there. And so John and James, two of the disciples, got very upset by this and they came back to Jesus and they said to Jesus, 'do you want us to call fire down from heaven, like Elijah did, and burn up the city?' And Jesus had to rebuke them. We read in Luke chapter 9, verses 55 and 56, "but he turned and rebuked them, and said, 'you do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For The Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." You see, they didn't realize that Jesus had come for the samaritan as well as the jew. It wasn't until after the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on pentecost that they really began to understand what their mission was.

What's interesting is that John and Peter - John being one of those disciples that wanted to call fire down from heaven. John and Peter went back to those same villages and they preached the Gospel there in samaria and the Bible says 'many believed.' The very town that John wanted to have destroyed, after he understood the mission of Christ, he went back and he preached and many believed. Now in Monday's lesson - it's entitled on this rock - and our passage there - Matthew chapter 16:17 and 18. Again, Jesus said, "blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father which is in heaven." Verse 18 says, "and I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." Now the question is asked, 'is Peter the rock upon which the church is built?' There are entire religious denominations that believe that Peter is the foundation upon which the church was built. But that's not what the Bible is saying.

It's interesting to note that the word 'Peter' there in the original means 'a pebble' or 'a stone', but the declaration that Peter had just made, that Jesus is the Christ, that's the rock - that's the foundation upon which the church is built. Now, there are many passages in Scripture that help us understand that Jesus is indeed the rock - or the foundation - of the church. Peter, himself, never acknowledged to be the foundation of the church. Actually, in acts chapter , verse 11, we have Peter preaching - this is after pentecost and the Holy Spirit has come upon them. It says Peter is preaching - acts 4:11 - he said, "this is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.

' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." So there it is. Peter is preaching and he says, 'Jesus is the stone that had been rejected by the builders, that is, the religious leaders, and he has become the chief cornerstone. And then in 1 Peter, the letter that Peter, himself, wrote - chapter 2, verse 6 - this is what Peter says, "therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame.'" - Talking about Jesus - verse 7 says, "therefore, to you who believe, he is precious; but to those who are disobedient, 'the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,' and 'a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.'" So in the mind of Peter, it was pretty clear as to who the foundation of the church is. Clearly it's Jesus. Peter would never want to be the foundation of the church.

The church has to be built on the fact that Jesus is the Christ. That's the foundation. And then, secondly, throughout the Bible we find the imagery of a rock or a stone, often associated with God or with Christ. You remember, in Daniel chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had this dream and in this dream he saw this image made up of all these different metals - you remember that? The head of gold, the chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay? And then what happened to that image? The Bible says, 'a stone was cut out without hands and it came and it struck the image upon the feet.' Who does that stone represent? It represents Jesus. It does not represent Peter.

Okay? It represents Jesus. Also, in Matthew chapter 7, verse 24, Jesus said, 'whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon' what? Upon the rock. So to build our house upon the rock is to receive the words of Jesus - to act upon His Word - that's what it means to build upon the rock. Elsewhere in Scripture it's pretty clear, we find Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 4 saying - speaking of Israel - "and all drank from that same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.

" You can't get it any clearer than this. Who's the rock upon whom the church was built? Clearly it is Christ - it is Jesus. Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19 and 20 - again, this is Paul - "now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone..." So the church is built upon Jesus. Now, that truth that Jesus is the Christ - that he is the foundation of the church, was preached and proclaimed by the apostles and the prophets, but really, the foundation of the church is Jesus. There's a very interesting quote that I found - it's actually in your lesson - it's from the book Desire of Ages and it has this to say with reference to the fact that Jesus is the Christ and how the disciples responded to it - Desire of Ages, page 413, "how feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words.

There was only a handful of believers against whom all the powers of demons and evil men were directed, yet the followers of Christ were not to fear, built upon the rock of their strength, Jesus, they could not be overthrown." Amen? You know, friends, even today, the fact that Jesus is the foundation of our church, that's the promise that by God's grace, if we are true to him, we also will overcome. Jesus said, 'upon this rock I'll build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' The 'it' in the verse is the church. The fact that the church is built upon Jesus, that is the promise that, by God's grace, the church can overcome. It's not the devil breaking down the gates of the church that Jesus is speaking about, it's the church breaking down the gates of the devil. What do we mean? It's the church, empowered by the Spirit, entering into the very stronghold of satan, setting sin's captives free.

It's not the church trembling at the presence of the devil, but it's the devil and his demons trembling at the presence of the church because Jesus is the Christ. And Jesus said, 'fear not, for I have overcome the world.' Amen? That's good news. When it comes to evangelism and the preaching of the everlasting Gospel, we need not fear because Jesus is the Christ. And if we keep our eyes fixed upon him, moving forward in faith, there is no power from darkness that could stand against the light or the truth of God's Word. Yes, Jesus is the Christ.

And then there is a shift of focus that we read about in Tuesday's lesson - from this mountaintop experience of Peter acknowledging Jesus to be the Christ, and everything that's involved with that. Suddenly, we find a shift occurring in the story. Matthew chapter 16, verse 21 - Matthew 16:21 - it says, "from that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day." Now it says clearly here that Jesus told his disciples that he was going to go to Jerusalem, he was going to be betrayed, and he was going to be crucified, but he would rise the third day. Yet it seemed the disciples just didn't listen to what Jesus was saying. They didn't expect that.

Matter of fact, when Jesus was arrested and he was crucified and they witnessed Jesus being placed in that tomb, their hopes were dashed as if Jesus had never even told them what was to come. You see, they have so filled their minds with the popular teaching concerning the Messiah, that he would establish a kingdom here on this earth and that that kingdom would elevate the Jewish nation and they would cast off the roman yoke that, even though Jesus explained the true nature of his kingdom, the kingdom of grace, they didn't receive it. They didn't understand. It wasn't until after these events were fulfilled the disciples really began to understand what the true mission of the church was and the work that Jesus wanted them to do. Now, in verse 22 it says, 'then Peter took" - Jesus - "him aside and began to rebuke him," - now isn't that interesting? Here you have Peter rebuking Jesus.

Peter knows better than Jesus and he says, 'far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to you!'" So here Jesus said that he's going to go to Jerusalem and is going to be betrayed and is going to be crucified. Peter says, 'Lord, don't say that. That's not going to happen to you.' 'Why?' 'I just told you. You're the Christ. You're the Messiah.

You're the one that's going to establish a kingdom that's going to last forever. What are you talking about being betrayed and crucified?' After all, those who crucified were the Romans and Jesus had come to cast off the roman yoke - to establish a great kingdom here on this earth for Israel. So Peter thought, well, let me just correct Jesus here. 'Lord, that's not going to happen to you.' Peter says. But look at verse 23, it says, "but he turned" - Jesus turned - "and said to Peter, 'get behind me, satan! You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.

'" So Jesus had to rebuke Peter and say, 'get thee behind me, satan.' In essence, Jesus was saying, 'Peter, you're acting like satan. You're doing the work of satan.' Now, why is it that Jesus had to say that to Peter? After all, wasn't Peter really well intentioned in his words to Christ? Well, Peter might have thought, well, that's the nice thing to do - to kind of encourage Jesus - maybe he was a little discouraged and - 'we've got to be positive and tell Jesus 'no, that's not going to happen.' But no, what Peter didn't realize is he was being used by the devil to try and discourage Christ from his mission. It's also interesting to note that Jesus said the same thing after he had been tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Remember, Jesus said, 'get thee behind me satan.' And here Jesus says this to Peter, 'get thee behind me, satan.' You see, in the wilderness, the devil came, he tempted Jesus that Jesus didn't have to go through the experience of his betrayal, crucifixion, and death. The devil said to Jesus, 'if you'll just bow down and worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms of this earth.

You don't have to do what you know your father has laid out for you to do. You can get around that. You can get past all the suffering.' And now the same spirit was being manifest by Peter when he said, 'Lord, this is not going to happen to you.' Peter was, in essence, telling Jesus that the mission that God had given him, Jesus didn't really have to fulfill. Now Peter didn't really understand what he was saying but, in reality, the devil was using him to try and discourage Christ from the very mission that Christ had come to do. You see, the problem really was that Peter, instead of following Jesus, was now telling Jesus to follow him.

In essence he was saying, 'Lord, I know what's best.' And Jesus had to rebuke Peter. You see, the lesson in this for us is this: anything that would lead us away from the known will of God, needs to be put behind us. In this case, Jesus knew what the will of The Father was. Here, Peter was suggesting another route. Jesus would have nothing to do with it.

He said, 'satan, get thee behind me.' In our own lives, anything that would lead us away from what God is calling us to do, those things that we know God wants us to do, must be put behind us, amen? Our goal is to follow the will of God wherever it may lead, even if that means going through a shadow of death, the safest place to be is to be following Jesus - to be in the center of his will. Matthew chapter 16, verse 24 - the story continues - "then Jesus said to his disciples, 'if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Now, of course, the cross was an instrument of death. In order for us to be a follower of Jesus, we need to have our eyes set on Jesus. We need to follow closely behind Jesus, in his footsteps. Anything that would take us away from that needs to be set aside - needs to be put to death, so to speak, in our own minds.

In our own hearts. Verse 25 says, "for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Verse 26 - "for what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" What is the most precious thing that we could ever have? That is Jesus - to know Jesus - to love Jesus. John chapter 17, Jesus said, "and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." That is the most important thing to us - coming to know Jesus - coming to love Jesus - coming to follow Jesus - that's more precious than life itself. If we end up laying down our lives here on this earth for Jesus, we need not fear because he has promised us a life throughout all eternity - with no pain, no sorrow, no fear. Forever we'll be with Jesus and with those that love him.

We don't want anything to hold us back from that full surrender to Christ. I remember a story of a man who, instead of investing all of his finances in the stock Market, or in some kind of retirement account, he decided to buy gold coins. And so, all the money he had, he invested in buying gold coins and he had quite a few of these gold coins and he had a special hiding place in his house - maybe under the floor or, you know, someplace only he knew about. Well, there was a flood that came to that area and, as the flood waters began to rise, the man realized that he was soon to be in trouble so he went and he found this bag of gold coins - his entire life savings - part of the inheritance that he had gotten from his father - everything he had, there in that bag full of gold coins. So he grabbed the bag of coins and he climbed onto the roof of his house and he was waiting because the flood waters are just washing in and taking down fences and houses were being washed away - it was terrible and - he was up on the roof of his house waiting to be rescued.

There was a helicopter flying around and it was rescuing people, so the helicopter came over and they dropped down a rope and they said to the man he needs to hold onto the rope and the helicopter was going to lift him up and take him to a place of safety. And so there he was, with his bag full of gold coins and with the other hand he was wrapping it around the rope trying to hold on and the person from the helicopter called down and said, 'you can never do that - you need both hands! One arm is not enough to hold you secure. You need to hold on with both hands.' That man had a terrible time. What was he to do? Was he to let go his life savings and save his life, or was he going to try and hold onto his life savings and jeopardize his life. The story goes that he held onto the bag of gold coins and he wrapped his arm around the rope and, despite the counsel given from the people above, he figured he was able to hold onto his life savings and also hold onto the rope at the same time and, as the helicopter began to lift, he began to realize how he was slipping and finally he came to his senses and he let go of the gold coins and he clung on with both hands and he saved his life.

Friends, the truth is there is a voice calling down from heaven to each of us, 'don't let anything here on this earth hinder you from holding on, with both hands, to Jesus. Amen? Because there is nothing in this world that can compare with the world to come. The things that God has in store for those that love him. Well then, moving right along to Wednesday's lesson - it's called encouragement from heaven - and this is just a really great story. We find over it here in Matthew chapter 17 and verse 1 - Matthew , verse 1 - it says, "now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John - those are the three disciples that got to share some very special experiences with Christ - and he ".

..led them up on a high mountain by themselves;" - now, the point I want you to notice is how many days later does Jesus take Peter, James, and John? It says it there - six days. Now if you read the account of the story in Mark, Jesus makes an announcement to the disciples. They were all there and Jesus said, 'there are some standing here that shall not taste death until they see The Son of man come with power or glory.' Or, as other translations put it, 'in his kingdom with glory.' And then it says six days after Jesus makes this announcement to the disciples, he takes Peter, James, and John and he takes them up to a high mountain and something happens there on top of that mountain. Now in Bible typology, what does a day represent? It represents a year if you're doing time prophecy, but it can also represent a thousand years. You can read in Peter, 'one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.

It's interesting to note that after six thousand years of being here on the earth, Jesus will take those who trusted him up high to our heavenly home and we'll see the glory of Christ. Jesus comes in the clouds of glory and he takes us home. Well, the next verse, verse 2 - "and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Verse 3 says, "and behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him." - Talked with Jesus. Now, you might be wondering, 'well, we understand about Elijah' - how did Elijah die? Elijah didn't die.

What happened to him? He was taken to heaven, right? In a fiery chariot. What about Moses? Did Moses die? Yes Moses died. But, now, how's Moses appearing with Jesus? Well, according to the book of Jude, which is the second to last book of the new testament, it talks about a resurrection that took place with reference to Moses. So sometime after Moses' death, there on the mountain, Christ resurrected Moses and he was taken to heaven. So Elijah and Moses were both in heaven when Jesus was on the earth.

And here they come and talk with Jesus. Now, what did they talk to Jesus about? The very thing that Peter, just a little while earlier had said, 'Lord, far be it for you - you will not suffer - you won't be betrayed - you won't die.' Moses and Elijah came and spoke to Christ concerning what he was to suffer and they encouraged Christ in the mission that lay before him. Now, it's also interesting to note that Elijah, here, is a symbol of those who are translated to heaven at the second coming, without seeing death. Of course, we realize that Elijah was taken to heaven without seeing death. Moses, on the other hand, can represent those who are resurrected when Jesus comes the second time.

So two groups of people at the second coming of Christ - those who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord, they are translated without seeing death, and those who are resurrected at the second coming and taken to heaven. Two groups of people when Jesus comes. Alright then, moving right along, verse 4 says, "then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here;'" - remember, Peter is the spokesman of the group - "'Lord, it's good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'" Now, again, I don't know where Peter got that idea from. He was probably overwhelmed and so filled with fear he didn't quite know what to say, but he thought he'd better say something and so he said, 'Lord, it's good for us to be here. We're going to build three temples - one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

' And then, verse 5, "while he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!" Now who was the one speaking from the cloud? It was God himself. So Jesus is there on the mount, Moses, Elijah - the disciples a little further back - there is a cloud that overshadows the three disciples and a voice heard from the cloud - that's God himself - 'this is my beloved son.' In other words, God was saying to Peter, 'Peter, be quiet. This is not the time to talk. This is the time to listen.

This is the time for you to understand what's really taking place before you.' There's another interesting thing about this experience - that's interesting to note - you have Elijah, which represents those translated at the second coming of Christ, you have Moses, representing those who are resurrected at the second coming of Christ, and then you have God The Father speaking, 'this is my beloved son.' In the old testament, Elijah often is associated with the prophets and Moses is often associated with the law. Now, when we're talking about the law, we're talking about the first five books of the Bible in the old testament - the pentateuch - the books written by Moses. And when you talk about the prophets, you're talking about everything else. So you have the old testament divided into two parts - the law, the first five books - and the prophets, everything else. The law represented by Moses; the prophets represented by Elijah.

And when you come to the new testament, the writing of the new testament is really just an extension of the prophets. So you've still got those two divisions, the law and the prophets. Now these two divisions are sometimes referred to in the Bible as 'the testimony' - you've got the testimony of the law and you've got the testimony of the prophets. There is also a very interesting verse in the old testament that says, 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses every truth - or every word - is to be established.' So who are the two witnesses that give testimony to the truth? The law and the prophets. So if you are seeking for truth, you look to the law of God - the first five books - and you look to the prophets.

And whatever the law says, you'll find the prophets repeating. Whatever the prophets say, you'll find in the law. And that's the two witnesses - in the mouth of two witnesses - but then it says, 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses everything - every truth is to be established. Now in this case, the truth that the law spoke of - the truth that the prophets spoke of, was with reference to Jesus being the Messiah. He was the Christ.

He is the anointed one. We find that referred to in the first five books of Moses and, of course, we also find that in the writings of the prophets - that's the two witnesses. But there is a third witness that is brought to view in this story. Who's the third witness? You've got Moses, you've got Elijah, but who's the third witness? God himself. 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

' What more evidence does anybody need than that? You've got the law, you've got the prophets, and you've got the voice of God. Now did God ever say, some other time in the ministry of Jesus, 'this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.'? When did that occur? At the baptism of Jesus. At the beginning of Christ's ministry the message was given by God, 'this is my beloved son.' Now, nearing the end of Christ's ministry, again the message is given, 'this is my beloved son, hear him. Heed his teachings. He's the one that is to be the foundation of the church.

' Moving on with verse 6, "and when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid." What's going to be the experience of the unGodly when Jesus comes the second time in the clouds of glory? What'll they say to the rocks and the mountains? 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sits upon the throne and from the wrath of the lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?' They will fall to the ground. But what'll be the experience of the righteous when Jesus comes? They'll look up and they'll say, 'this is our God, we have waited for him. He will save us.' Notice the next verse here - verse 7 - "but Jesus came and touched them and said, 'arise, and do not be afraid.'" You see, friends, when we fall at the feet of Jesus, and we set him before us, and we choose to follow him, we not - we need not be afraid. We need not fear that day when Jesus comes for we will be found in him. And Jesus will forgive and cleanse and transform our lives now, so that when that day comes, we'll be ready for Jesus - to meet him in peace.

You know, I'm grateful that the story of Peter and Jesus doesn't end with Peter making one mistake after another. After the resurrection, Jesus first appeared to the disciples on Sunday afternoon - he rose early Sunday morning - he met mary magdalene and he said, 'do not detain me. Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my father in heaven.' Jesus ascends to The Father, then he comes back and he meets with the disciples there in the upper room. And then eight days after that first meeting with the disciples, Jesus came back. The disciples were still in Jerusalem and he met with them again - this would have been on a Monday - and Jesus told the disciples that they were to go to Galilee and he would meet them in Galilee.

It was about a two and a half-day journey to go from Jerusalem all the way out to Galilee, so probably on Tuesday morning the disciples left and they walked Tuesday, Wednesday, and at least half of Thursday - maybe Thursday late afternoon they made it to the sea of Galilee. You can just imagine how Peter was probably feeling at this time - just fresh in his mind was his betrayal of Christ. But now he sees the sea of Galilee and says to the disciples, 'I'm going to go fishing.' And they say, 'okay, we're going to go fishing with you.' So the Bible tells us they fished all night - and how much did they catch? They catch nothing. I think there's a lesson in that for us, friends. If Jesus calls us to do something for him, even if we get discouraged, don't go back to what you used to do, you won't be successful.

Follow where Jesus is leading. There's the lesson. And in the morning, as the little boat was making its way towards shore, the disciples looked out and they saw somebody standing there at the shore and the person called to the disciples and said, 'children have you caught any fish?' And they responded, 'no, we haven't caught anything.' But then the stranger said to them, 'take your nets and throw it on the other side of the boat.' And immediately the disciples remembered an experience that happened at the beginning of Christ's public ministry where Peter was told to go cast out nets in the water and he said, 'Lord, we've fished all night but we've caught nothing. Nevertheless, at Your Word I will do it.' And as he threw the nets on the other side of the boat, the net was filled with fish. So the disciples quickly gathered the nets and they threw it over and suddenly, the nets were filled with fish.

John, who was there in the boat, he motioned to Peter and said, 'it's the Lord.' Not that Peter needed John to tell him that it was Jesus. I think he figured it out. And so, Peter cast off his outer coat and he jumped into the water and he went splashing through the water, made his way up to where Jesus was. Finally, Peter turned his back on the fishing and set his heart on the Savior. He had made his decision and there was a little fire going and Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples.

When they were getting done eating, Jesus asked Peter the question, he said, 'Peter, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?' Now, of course, the reason Jesus asked that question is because, the night of Christ's betrayal, Peter said, 'Lord, though all shall be offended because of you - shall betray you or leave you, I will never desert you.' Jesus says, 'Peter, do you really love me more than the others?' Because Peter realized what he did. And Peter said, 'yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' And then Jesus asked the same question: 'Peter, do you love me?' And again Peter said, 'yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Finally, Jesus asked a third time, 'Peter, do you love me?' Why did Jesus ask three times? Because Peter had denied Jesus how many times? Three times. And the third time Peter said, 'yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' And then Jesus revealed something of what Peter was to suffer for Jesus. And yet, Peter was still willing to suffer for his Lord. Yes, Peter was fully committed to Jesus.

Friends, that's the experience that we need to have, amen? Jesus needs to be our personal Christ. He needs to be our Savior and we need to learn to trust in him wholeheartedly and completely, leaving those things that are behind us, pressing towards the Mark, following our Savior Jesus. Tradition tells us that, yes, Peter was faithful. He was actually crucified for Christ. Although, when it came to his crucifixion, he didn't feel worthy to be crucified right way up.

He said, 'I can't be crucified like my Lord, crucify me upside down.' Tradition tells us that he was. He gave his life for Jesus. No questioning then. No betrayal then, but just a firm, full commitment to the love of Christ. Friends, that needs to be our experience, amen? I want that experience.

What about you? Jesus asks all of us that same question that he asked Peter. 'Do you love me more than these?' More than the things of this world, who will you put first? That's the lesson that we learn from Peter's response to Jesus. Well, friends, it looks like we're out of time. I would just like to remind those who are joining us about our free offer. It's a book entitled determining the will of God.

And friends, you can receive this by giving us a call on our resource phone number. The number there is 866-788-3966 - that's offer #778 - ask for the book determining the will of God. We'll be happy to send it to you. Those outside of North America, just go to the Amazing Facts website - amazingfacts.org. Click on the link that says Sabbath School Study Hour and you can actually download this resource along with the lesson.

Again, thank you so much for joining us and hope to see you next week as we study again. Port royal, here in jamaica, was once considered the most wicked city in the world. They had more bars and brothels per square foot than any other place on the planet. It was said to be just full of cutthroats and pirates but, during this time, the King of France, louis xiv, he began to persecute the protestants and the huguenots in the Kingdom and many fled. That's when louis galdy and his brother laurent came to port royal.

When louis galdy arrived, he was absolutely dumbfounded at the unrestrained immorality, violence, and extravagance that filled port royal. That's why nobody was surprised when the judgment of God finally happened. Just before noon on June 7, , there was a massive earthquake that affected the whole island, port royal, in particular. Two thirds of it slid into the sea. Then came a tsunami.

Thousands perished. Unfortunately, even louis galdy was swallowed up in the earthquake. You know, much of jamaica is a rock, but port royal was built on the sand. And so, when the earthquake struck, the sand virtually liquefied, swallowing much of the city and thousands of people. Louis galdy was buried alive, but while underground he was still conscious and he prayed.

He resigned himself to his fate, prayed to the Lord, and then another miracle happened. There was an aftershock, with volcanic activity, that exploded, blowing louis galdy out of the earth hundreds of yards off into the sea where he had a pretty hard landing, but he was able to swim until he was rescued. Louis galdy dedicated the remaining 47 years of his life to serving Jesus in this island and he's even buried here still today. You know, the Bible tells us, just before Jesus comes back the conditions in the world will be very much like they were in sodom and in port royal. There's going to be a tremendous earthquake and even islands will be swallowed up.

But God's people don't need to be afraid. The same way that the Lord took care of louis galdy, he will take care of you. It says in psalm 91 that you might see a thousand fall at your side or ten thousand at your right hand, but only with your eyes will you see and behold the destruction of the wicked. He can protect you and resurrect you.

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