Imagine Heaven


Share the Gospel

By Rev. Mark Bartsch, Chaplain

Have you ever found yourself standing in Jesus’s way? Have you thought too much about the “things of men”?  Have you ignored the “things of God,” the gospel? At first glance, those are sharp words.  Jesus just called Peter by the name “Satan.” Does that mean that Peter is on the side of the devil?  Let’s put Jesus’s words into context to understand his words to Peter. Earlier in Matthew 16, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They responded, John the Baptist, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

He said to them, “But you, who do you say I am?”  Peter had a wonderful response.  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon… You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16: 13-18)

Then, we come to chapter 16: 21-22: From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised again.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “May you receive mercy, Lord!  This will never happen to you.”

In his response to Jesus, Peter was acting as an agent of the devil.  Peter was in Jesus’s way; he was standing in the way of the gospel.  Jesus had to go to Jerusalem, he had to suffer many things, and he had to be killed and then rise again. This is the plan of salvation for you and me and all people. We have all sinned. Jesus was sent by the Father as our substitute. If we somehow prevent the Word of God from being proclaimed, then people will not know their sins are forgiven and that their guilt is removed. God loves us so much that he lovingly sent his Son to live, to die, and to rise again for us.  In him, our forgiveness is guaranteed, and our place in heaven is prepared. May we never act as an agent of the devil.  May we never hinder or prevent the proclamation of the gospel.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, help us to put away worldly, selfish thoughts.  Move us to speak of your great love and your willingness to be the Savior for all people.  Forgiveness is ours, and the joy of heaven awaits.  Amen.