I’m going to write about this a bit, and then give you a message from the archives.
Let me start with scripture:
The apostle Peter is considered a great leader – and Jesus built him up. In Matthew 16, Peter confesses Christ (verses 13-20):
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Jesus asked the disciples – who is it that you think I am? The others gave answers as to what others thought – but Peter gave the definitive answer in verse 16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – not what others thought, but what he thought.
And Jesus built him up – telling Peter that he will become the rock on which the church will be built, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and that he will get the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Peter was on cloud nine! He thought he was “all that and a bag of chips” – as they say.
It’s this passage, after all, that the Roman Catholic church claims is the proof that Peter was the first pope, and that all popes after him are supposedly descended from his lineage.
But what goes up – must come down, and immediately after this exchange, Jesus does just that. He starts to talk about how he has to go to Jerusalem, and be crucified for the good of the world – and proud Peter rebukes Jesus! Are you kidding me? Let’s look at the passage – Matthew 16:21-23:
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 will not be rebuked, and Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”
This was no minimal reprimand, this was a command – the Greek translation for this is: Ὕπαγε – Pronounced “Hai-PA-GE”, meaning literally to “Get out!”
It’s the same verb used by Jesus to Satan himself in Matthew 4:10:
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
The Greek verb used for “Be gone” in this verse literally means “Get out! Go away!”
Jesus was telling Peter that unless he started setting his mind on things of God, instead of things of man – he was of no use to Him.
What goes up, must come down.
Here’s a sermon I gave years ago entitled “When A Leader Becomes a Loser” – give this a listen, then come back, and I’ll tie it all together.
We have leaders like Peter, David and Uzziah in many areas of our lives today – in government, in ministry, maybe in ourselves.
The point is – as it’s written in James 4:6-7:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
God will not permit the proud to prosper.
He will humble the ministry leader who thinks they’re invincible down, one way or another. In ministry, He’s brought deceptions into the open – such as the Ravi Zaccharias issue, or Jimmy Swaggart in the 1980s, or any number of other ministry leaders who thought they were above God’s discipline.
He will humble the government leader who is deceiving or oppressing the people. They will eventually be brought down. Any number of political leaders have been brought low – and they never learn, do they?
Numbers 32:23 – it’s written, “…behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Politicians, ministry leaders – we all, everyone, could heed this advice.