Focus Passage: Matthew 16:13-28
Most of us are people pleasers. We want someone’s approval and find it very hard to be honest. Who wants to disappoint people? Let’s say that your child brought home his art project. He is beaming and says look Mom what I made. With horror in your gut, you notice that the project he is so proud of is just plain awful. What do you say to your beaming child? What if it isn’t an art project, but it is a coworker who is stealing or a friend who is into drinking or x rated videos? How do you tell someone that they are messing up their life? Jesus gives us the answer as He speaks to Peter. He is tender but truthful to a disciple who has got it all wrong.
Jesus is not afraid to compliment Peter v.17. Jesus is always spending time with the disciples. He asks them questions. He gives them challenges. He is always seeking to build them and expand them so that they understand what God’s plan is. And when they get it, He commends them. Peter must have felt good when Jesus complimented him in front of the others disciples. Jesus built up the disciples and showed them that He cared. He earned the right to be truthful by being so tender.
Jesus must be honest, too v.22. Peter then makes a drastic error. He has assumed that if Jesus was the Messiah that the things that Jesus was saying could never happen. It was like putting your arm around a friend and saying “I doubt that you know what you are talking about”. Jesus sees the horrible unfolding of that logic. If unchecked, Peter and the others will think that anyone who serves the Lord will never face crisis or difficulty. When they all face persecution later in life, their faith may fail.
Jesus tenderly explains the truth v.26 Jesus doesn’t just correct Peter, He explains why Peter’s words were wrong. In a speech that they probably didn’t want to hear, Jesus taught them what it really meant to be the followers of the Messiah. The rewards will come in the end, but they will face hardship at first that will test the limits of their faith. A true friend doesn’t just tell someone that they are wrong but encourages them with the right answer so they know why their answer was wrong.
When you correct someone, examine your motives. We all know people who like to point out everyone else’s faults. As we see a flaw out of control in another’s life, we must be truthful for the sole purpose of saving that person from the firestorm that will come and destroy them. We must love them enough that we want to save them from the affair, from the drugs, or from their workaholic tendencies. The truth is always to lift them up not tear them down. The truth is to build them up so that they can be better not bring them down so that you look good.
Just have the courage to care. The other extreme is one of silence. When someone is wrong, it is easy to walk away and say nothing. You never know how they will react to being told that they are wrong. Jesus shows what real love is. He has built the relationship so that the disciples know His honesty is based on love. He explains why their views will hurt them and helps them understand the truth. That is not always easy, but it is what a friend does for you. It is a gift of love when you have the courage to care enough to say something. Having examined your motives, tell the person in love what the truth is and you will give them a great gift that they may cherish all their lives.