Did Jesus really need to die? You see, the death of the Savior is not a defeat. It's a victory. It's a victory over sin. It's a victory over death. It's a victory over the grave.
And equally important, it's a victory over Satan. While Peter is thinking you cannot die, Jesus is answering, I must die. Traditionally, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ beginning on Palm Sunday and then culminating on Easter morning. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll begins a brand new teaching series called Compelled by the Cross. In this study, we'll take our time to examine the powerful implications of Easter with special attention being given to the miracle of Christ's victory over death and the grave. Chuck titled this first message, Jesus' Magnificent Obsession. Five Sundays remain before Easter, counting this one. And so for these five Sundays, we're going to be on a journey with Jesus from one Sunday to the next as we visit various scenes along the way as he came nearer and nearer to the cross. Today, we're looking at a passage in Matthew 16 where he breaks the news to the disciples for the first time.
Imagine that. They knew he was Messiah. They knew he would ultimately conquer, but they didn't have in their plans that he would die.
So it came as a shock to them. We'll read of it in Matthew 16, 21 through 26. I'll be reading the passage from the New Living Translation. I'd like you to follow along in your Bible.
Matthew 16, 21 is the starting point. From then on, Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed.
But on the third day, he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. Heaven forbid, Lord, he said, this will never happen to you. Jesus turned to Peter and said, get away from me, Satan. You are a dangerous trap to me.
You're seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from gods. Then Jesus said to his disciples, if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way. Take up your cross and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
Is anything worth more than your soul? You're listening to Insight for Living. To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Jesus Magnificent Obsession. The late Winston Churchill was never one to sort of wander aimlessly through life. Those who knew him and those of us who love to read his works know that he was a man on a mission.
In fact, it became an obsession. On May 10, 1940, King George VI asked him to come and spend some time with him. The 66-year-old prime minister would be forming a new government and would be leading his beloved England against the forces of Nazism. When he met with the king, he realized this was more than just an assignment, just another responsibility for his life. As he put it, I felt as if I were walking with destiny and that all my past life had been but a preparation for that hour and for that trial. We could say that it became for Churchill his magnificent obsession.
He saw it through to the end. He was the influence that turned the attention of our own president toward Europe. He was the moving force that would save the land of England because of this obsession. How different it was for Jesus Christ. Even before he arrived on this earth, he understood his mission. It would become his obsession, the cross. Unlike us who come to live, he came deliberately to die.
For people like you and like me, how grateful we are that he never lost sight of that. Oh, he was a little boy in Nazareth growing up there, worked in Joseph's carpenter shop until he was about 30, and then he left as he began his itinerant ministry for the next three, three and a half years. During that time, he would call 12 men to become his close followers, his disciples. Interesting choices he made, weren't they? These men ultimately hung on every word, watched with constant attention the things he did, the way he handled opposition. They believed in him. They loved him. They sat alongside him, walked with him, ate near him, slept beside him, traveled along the way, having left their own trades and businesses to be his disciples. But they never expected him to die. They didn't break that news to them until an epical moment when they were accessory of Philippi.
It was there he decided it's time to tell them the whole story. It begins with a casual sounding question that we began reading of in Matthew 16, about verse 13 it is. Look for yourself. Who do people say that the Son of Man is? He asked.
What's the word out on the street? I'm sure they wouldn't tell Jesus who they thought he was, but what are they saying to you about me? The answer came rather easily. Some say you're the baptizer, you're John. Others say you're Elijah, having come back from beyond. Some say you're Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
Then Jesus looked deeply into the eyes of these men he's been traveling with these three years. Look at it for yourself. But who do you say that I am?
You can't see it in the English statement, but the U, the pronoun is plural in the original Greek text. Who do y'all say that I am? I thought I'd just use the colloquial, we're used to that.
Or all y'all. Who do all y'all say I am? Peter doesn't wait for the others to answer. He steps up and his greatest moment occurs when he steps out all on his own and he says, You are the Mashiach. Your Bible may read Christ, Christos, that's the Greek word, Mashiach, transliterated from the Hebrew Messiah means anointed one. And he goes on, you are the son of the living God. I love the way it reads in the original. In fact, it's a particular syntactical construction where the definite article is repeated and the adjective is emphasized.
It's called a restrictive attributive in the syntactical statement. You are the Christ, the son of God, the living one. You see, they were at Caesarea Philippi, and if you travel there even today, you can look up on the hillside and see the caves where idolaters worshipped. You can even see images of Pan, the idol Caesarea Philippi. Unlike the god Pan, you are the son of the living God. Peter never stood taller. My, Jesus moved him to the front of the class when he said, Blessed are you, Simon Peter. Heaven has revealed this to you, it hasn't come from some human source, and I say to you that you are Peter, Petrus, the rock. And upon this rock-like statement, I will build my church. What a moment for Peter. Well, he must have felt great.
Finally, the right answer. And Jesus commends him without any reservation. After a few more words regarding the church and their authority, Jesus now moves into greater detail.
Look for yourself. Verse 21. From then on, it's a turning point. From then on, Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly. Now watch how he went about it. He didn't just immediately say, I'm going to be crucified. He began by saying, it's necessary for me to go to Jerusalem. That wasn't a shock. It had been there before.
It was the religious center of the country, still is. We're going to go back to Jerusalem, fine. And while there, it is necessary that I must suffer many terrible things at the hands of the authorities. They've seen him suffer before. They have no idea what he's referring to here, not fully. And then he adds, and they will kill me. That's all they heard.
Everything stopped there. If you've ever heard shocking information, you know how it blocks out everything afterwards? You don't really hear what is said beyond the shocking statement. I don't believe they even heard what he said regarding his being raised from the dead.
Peter certainly didn't. He pulled him aside. Remember how the story reads? He brought him to the side and he began to reprimand him. That's a hard one for me to get past.
Can you imagine anyone reprimanding, who claims to be a follower of Jesus, reprimanding Messiah? Well, maybe the valedictorian of the class has a right to take a little unfair advantage here, and he says no. No, that will never happen to you. You got that wrong. You're the one that's going to conquer. You're going to overthrow Rome. You're going to be leading us into a kingdom, and you will reign, and we will reign with you. You're not going to die.
You're God. Jesus doesn't give that statement five seconds before he is back on it. Stop.
Silence. Get behind me, Satan. You know, when you read those words from this passage, if you really read them for what they're meant to say, it'll put a chill up your back. You've never said that to anyone, no matter who the enemy is, most likely. But you see, he was mouthing the script of the adversary, Peter was.
And Jesus calls it for what it was. You sound like the enemy. You're a trap. You're dangerous. Step aside.
Go to the back of the class. He may have scored high marks on Jesus' identity, but when it came to his obsession, he missed it by a mile. I am going to die. You see, the death of the Savior is not a defeat. It's a victory. It's a victory over sin. It's a victory over death. It's a victory over the grave. And equally important, it's a victory over Satan. Satan loses his fangs at the cross. Don't tell me I'm not going to die.
That's the whole purpose of my coming. While Peter is thinking you cannot die, Jesus is answering, I must die. I think at that moment there was silence. Not only Peter, I think his lips are now sealed for once. He stays quiet, red-faced. He has been summarily rebuked, and appropriately so.
Still not understanding it, he backs away. And before we go further, let me give you the first of three principles I want to leave with you from the verses now that follow. This one and the ones that follow. Please hear them well.
They are as relevant now as they would have been back then. We must never think that because a death is shockingly unexpected, it is therefore unacceptable. Again, we must never think that because a death is shockingly unexpected, it is therefore unacceptable. Accept a warning here.
May I give it to you? Take away the word premature. Stop linking it with death.
No one dies prematurely. If we are going to look at life as God has planned life, we must look at death as God has planned death. Otherwise, God is not quite sovereign.
Just almost. Which is heresy. Let me verify this by having you remember, if you choose not to turn, I'll read it for you. Listen to the words of Psalm 139 16.
Understand the context. David writes the psalm. When he gets to verse 13 in the psalm, and down through verse 17, he enters into the most secret and sacred and sensitive of all places. The womb of the mother. And he looks at his own embryo and fetus.
And ours as well. And he writes this. Referring to God, your eyes have seen my unformed substance. In the womb, we are still being formed, so still while being formed, your eyes see me. And see all who have not yet been born. You have seen my unformed substance, and in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me.
Our days are ordained for us. You hear that and you think, I don't like that. Well, I don't care.
Doesn't matter what you like, or what I like. He says it and it's true. You believe the day of your birth was marked out by God for a reason and a purpose, you better believe it. So it is with the day of your death.
Not one second before, not one second late. It's in the book, ordained for you. That will take away you who are overly worried about dying.
And I meet them more and more, unfortunately. Here's a verse that says, it's in the book, our days are ordained for us. Teach that to your children. Cultivate a little theology on their part so that they understand what God's plan is. Our days are ordained for us. Let me read also Ecclesiastes 3, 1 and 2. There is an appointed time for everything, a time for every event under heaven.
A time to give birth and a time to die. You know what's interesting is that Peter as a youngster and the other disciples as youngsters were involved in the Jewish synagogue of their community. Each one of them Jewish boys that they were. And both the Psalms, Psalm 139, as well as Ecclesiastes, the writings of Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3, 1 and 2. Both of them were taught no doubt by the rabbi.
They heard these things. But when it came to Jesus, it didn't seem to fit. You're not supposed to die. You're supposed to live and live forever.
But wait. Without death, his death, we cannot live forever. The life that he lived qualified him for the death that he died. And the death that he died qualifies us for the life he lived.
It's all in the plan. You say, well, it's beyond me. Well, welcome to the club. Of course, it's beyond all of us.
You can never get your head around all of this. But that's where your heart plays a major part in accepting this. Peter has a ways to go with his heart. Self-willed man that he was, as all of us are. He had this to learn.
I do not see a death as unacceptable just because it's shockingly unexpected. When it's time, it's time. And Jesus is saying to Peter, that's my time. I must go to the cross. You're listening to a brand new teaching series from Bible teacher, pastor, and author, Chuck Swindoll.
It's called Compelled by the Cross. For more information on this daily Bible teaching program and to access Chuck's study notes, look for the series called Compelled by the Cross when you visit us online at insightworld.org. You know, here at Insight for Living Ministries, we never tire of proclaiming Christ and Christ crucified. And that's because no one can find deliverance, God's love or purpose in life apart from the gospel. And those of you who give generously are the ones who empower us to proclaim the good news.
We do that every day through multiple languages in dozens of countries worldwide. And gratefully, not a day passes when we don't hear from someone who's discovered how to cultivate a relationship with God as a result of the teaching they hear on Insight for Living. Let me give you an example. Responding to one of Chuck's messages on overcoming failure, this person wrote, Chuck, your message today was for me. I've made some terrible mistakes in my life that include divorce and the heartbreak of watching my children suffer. I need God's grace every hour. This was more than a sermon. I needed this. We need this. We need God.
That is so well stated. None of us can find deliverance apart from God's grace and mercy. And if you're among those who give to Insight for Living, your gift enables us to deliver this message of hope to those, like this listener, who need it most. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or to give online, go to insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his brand new teaching series called Compelled by the Cross, next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Jesus' Magnificent Obsession, was copyrighted in 2022 and 2023, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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