Learning to Follow Jesus’ Way

Spotting Your Flawed Judgement

Is there a more obvious display of bad judgment in the Bible than when Peter tried to rebuke Jesus? It is not just because Peter was disrespectful to Jesus, but think about what Peter was trying to do with his scolding. He attempted to convince Jesus that the Cross was a bad idea. He thought Jesus’ plan was a flawed and sought to replace it with his own. In other words, Peter tried to thwart God’s plan of redemption simply because he judged it the wrong way to do it. It is easy to criticize Peter’ s underlying pride here and move on in the Gospels. But please don’t do so without seeing the hugely important lesson to be learned. It starts with asking a vitally important question of motivation.

Why did Peter think he was justified to rebuke Jesus? The answer lies in the self involved nature of man.

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Why Do You Call Me Good?

Did you know the “wellness” market in the United States reached almost a trillion dollars last year? To give you an idea of just how large a number this is, if you spent a million dollars every day from the time of Jesus until today, you still would not have exhausted a trillion dollars. Yet, this total actually increases yearly as people shell out more and more for things like vitamins, health club membership, and meditation seminars. Their devotion makes perfect sense when you think about it. Man in the natural, unredeemed state loves self above anything else. This is why Jesus tells you to love others like you love yourself. He does not mean you need to love yourself before you can love others. That is the message of the self help movement. Rather, Jesus’ point was that all humans are born caring for themselves above anyone else. A child’s first word is often “mine” or “no”. You naturally look out for your wants and needs first before deciding whether to care for others. This self focus reveals itself externally in things like the trillions spent on wellness and entertainment. But it also dramatically sets the boundaries for how man reasons and judges life.

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A person who loves himself will always esteem the things that please self. This does not mean they constantly seek pleasure. Rather, they judge life by what feeds them positive and negative returns. The experiences, decisions, and products that feel good to them are judged as good. Those that feel hurtful to their flesh are judged as bad. They go to drastic lengths to grasp the things they determine beneficial and flee from the adverse. For example, wealth, entertainment, excitement, and ease please most people’s flesh so they are viewed as good. Suffering, rejection, defeat, and death cause the flesh pain so they must be “bad” by nature. These ideas of good and bad set the parameters on a person’s life. Most people’s spend their time simply chasing after what promises to please them within their framework.

The desire to please and care for self acts like a magnet on a person’s compass of life. Their morals, judgment, and decisions are pulled towards self. This favoring of what is good for them inevitably leads them away from God.

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Whose Way Seems Right?

The pattern of your Christian life is meant to be very different. You are no longer stuck as a prisoner of sin’s empty obsessions.  The self obsessed you died the moment you were born again. Jesus set you free from all of that. He called you to a life of service and sacrificial love. The Lord blazed this trail to follow when He willingly chose the Cross.  Unfortunately, the temptation to serve self above all others does not automatically disappear upon conversion. It will still lurk in your flesh for as long as you have free will. It is constantly at work attacking God’s church and destroying the walks of so many Christians. It seeks to poison your decisions, motivations, judgment, and emotions with just enough self pleasing to lead you into opposition to God’s plan. It was this same love of self that led to Peter great blunder.

Why did Peter think the Cross was such a terrible idea that he needed to rebuke Jesus?

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The compass of his judgment was skewed away from God by the magnet of himself. There is no dispute that the Cross was a painful and disgusting thing. It was monumentally unfair for perfect Jesus to die as a criminal. He had the way to eternal life, Peter himself knew. Peter had just declared Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God moments before. These were all true. Yet, Peter added his assumptions and judgments to these truths.

Peter loved Jesus and Peter thought suffering is bad. Therefore, the Cross made no sense. Peter also likely thought his plans better for Jesus. The Messiah should defeat the Romans, rule in Jerusalem, and make Israel great. That would be glorious to Peter and it was what he passionately hoped for. The Cross therefore was unnecessary. Jesus plan did not meet Peter’s expectation’s and did not fit within his definitions of what was good. Jesus needed to be rebuked and get on Peter’s program, as a result:

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. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!

The Lord made His views abundantly clear in His response:

But He 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.”

Peter allowed his mind to be led by men – namely himself. God’s plan led to suffering, death, and pain. Peter did not like those so he judge them bad. God’s plan was therefore also bad. Peter did like the idea of victory, power, and a restored Israel. He therefore thought his idea was way better.

Placing his own tiny, limited, and corrupted judgment of what was good before Jesus’ led to him despising the way of redemption. His viewpoint was radically distorted and Peter had no realization of it.

It is such a bad move that Jesus compares him to Satan.

The damage done by relying on self is as substantial as it is nonsensical. Peter declared Jesus the Christ, the Son of God at one moment. He then rebuked that same Christ, the Son of God because he was uncomfortable with Gods’ further plan the next. His wisdom is untrustworthy and fickle.

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Whose Will Be Done?

You may want to wait before being too hard on Peter. The truth is, if you honestly examine your own life, you probably are struggling with the same type of underlying “self” judgments as Peter did with Jesus. Many Christians do so without ever questioning them. Think about it, honestly:

How do you view pain? How do you judge suffering? How do view a plan that involves you hurting, losing, or sacrificing?

These are all bad, right? You start off as not wanting any part of them. The underlying assumption is God is not in you hurting. You may even spend your life searching for the open door (or window) you expect God to put in front of you to show He is leading you. You view resistance or failure as proof God is not calling you in a certain direction. Yet is this what Bible says? Jesus was crucified. Paul was repeatedly beaten and run from towns. All of the disciples suffered greatly and rejoiced in it.

Perhaps you are looking at things incorrectly?

How do you view wealth, ease, and entertainment?

All good things, right? It is God’s blessing when you are doing well and there is a whole Christian industry built on pursuit of God’s favor in money. Yet, again, this is not necessarily true. God never promises any of these to His kids. He did say you would be persecuted and that disciplines is good.

How do view fun, excitement, and entertainment? If you had the choice between talking with someone who makes you laugh and one who is hard to talk with, which would you pick? Do you think that a filled church equates with God working? How do you spend your free time? Who do you look to for friendship?

The possible examples are varied but the point stays the same. The same mindset of self gratification that feeds the wellness industry can warp your thinking on your answers so thoroughly that you find yourself living to please only yourself. This leads to the exact position of Peter, you are just more subtle in your rebuke:

Lord, I asked for a better answer to my prayer than this, what is wrong with you?

God, I am suffering, this is bad and you have failed me.

Jesus, your plan for my life is unpleasant for me, you should not ask this of me.

Not your will, Father, but mine be done.

Are You Arguing with God?

The way of the world says do what seems good to you at that moment. It encourages you to choose what feels good and model your life according to that impulses. It molds your brain to crave the things of the flesh. The church of Satan’s motto is “Do as they wilt”. Jesus’s response is the exact opposite:

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. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?


This is the conflict at the heart of the issue. You cannot follow yourself if you wish to follow Jesus. You cannot do God’s will if you want to do yours. You cannot trust your judgment and trust God’s. A servant does his Masters wishes, not his own. Serving Jesus, therefore, first requires the admission you have no right to judge God’s plan. You also have no ability to make that sort of call, even if you had the right.

Back to Peter and Jesus: have you thought about how this could have gone differently? Peter was free to reject his own fears and doubts and trust Jesus. Peter could have reminded himself that despite the pain coming, the Christ and Son of God knew what he was doing. Peter could have had faith and rejoiced in the revelation of God’s plan. Instead, he ended up fighting Jesus and compared to the father of lies, Satan. This is where love of self always leads you as well.

The only way to truly be a servant of God is to first refuse to be servant of yourself. It starts with saying “No” to your and any other man’s judgment. It is only Jesus’ Way that matters. Trying to follow any other plan only distorts your view of God.

Galatians-1-10 Pastor Unlikely

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