December 21, 2003


After Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus commanded His apostles not to reveal that knowledge to others. Then He "began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, 'Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."' (Mark 8:31-33).

This marks the first time Jesus had spoken plainly of His upcoming crucifixion, although there had been veiled allusions to it earlier in His ministry. The eagerness of His enemies to destroy Him was probably a factor in Jesus' not calling public attention to His Messiahship until the time was fast approaching for Him to lay down His life for our sins.

In order to understand Peter's reaction to this declaration, we must remind ourselves that the common Jewish concept of the Christ or Messiah was that of a conquering military hero. That the Messiah could suffer and die was unthinkable to them. This is why the vast majority of His own people rejected Him in the first century, even after seeing His miracles and being impressed with His understanding. This is why Peter, immediately after His magnificent expression of faith in verse 29, is found scolding Jesus in verse 32. And Jesus, in turn, found it necessary to rebuke Peter quite sharply. Scholar William Barclay reminds us 'The tempter can make no more terrible attack than when he attacks in the voice of those who love us, and who think they seek only our good."

Although I do not glory in Peter's mistake, I do find a certain amount of consolation in the fact that one who walked and talked and ate with Jesus as a constant companion, and one of the Lord's best personal friends sometimes had trouble getting everything together, just as I sometimes do. It comforts me to know that a person who is intelligent and sincere and well-meaning can err - for I like to believe that I possess those characteristics, yet I am ever aware of my own limitations and short-comings.

Peter was no hypocrite. Few men, if any, were ever more committed to the love and obedience of Christ than Simon Peter. Yet on this and other occasions, Peter had to be rebuked. Let us each learn that there is still much to learn about our Lord and His will, and that we need constantly to seek out His help as we seek to live the truth we know.

--Clarence R. Johnson


Many religious people are looking for a coming kingdom of Christ here on earth. They expect Jesus to return, conquer the forces of evil, and establish a physical kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. It will last for 1000 years, and Christ will personally and literally reign on David's restored throne. 

There are a host of scriptures that are twisted to arrive at this conclusion. It is a theory most commonly referred to as "premillennialism. A favorite proof text is Isaiah 11:1ff: 

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him . . . and righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." 

This passage is clearly messianic; that is, it is a prophecy of the work to be accomplished by the Christ. But what does it actually foretell?

The premillennialist looks forward to a wonderful 1000-year reign of Christ. Everything will be so beautiful and peaceful, so they say, that the wolf will literally dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the kid, etc. Even the lion will stop being a predatory animal and will eat straw like an ox, according to their view.

Is this literal interpretation right? Or could the prophet be using figurative, symbolic language? Thankfully we have an inspired commentary on these verses in Romans 15. 

In much of the book of Romans Paul deals with some of the Jew/Gentile problems that plagued the early church. In the immediate context of chapter 15, Paul instructs them to: "be like-minded one toward another" (vs. 5) "with one mind and mouth glorify God" (vs. 6) "receive ye one another" (vs. 7) 

He then reminds them that Jesus' mission was "to confirm the promises made unto the fathers and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy" (vs. 8,9). To prove this he then quotes from Psalms 18:49, Deut. 32:43, Psalms 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10.

By inspiration Paul has explained that Isaiah 11 is symbolic language, referring to a time when the Messiah would make peace where it had not existed before. Not literally among the animal world, but rather between the Jew and Gentile. In His kingdom (now existing) we are one (Gal. 3:28). In Ephesians 2:14-16 the apostle affirms the same truth: "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." 

Here, then, is the promised peace of Isaiah 11. There is no future earthly kingdom to come. We can enjoy citizenship in the kingdom of Christ NOW, with all the benefits He has promised. 

--Greg Gwin, Simple Bible Studies


A farmer removed an old beech tree which grew on his land. The woodcutter noticed on the bark some curious marks which looked like the letters J.L, roughly cut and below them some ornamental design. After the tree was cut and was being divided into lengths, he was startled to find on the hard dry wood at the core of the tree, the clearly cut letters J.L. on a dark background, and below them an anchor. Upon inquires, it was found that the letters were the initials of a sailor named John Leland. There were 37 rings between the letters and the bark of the tree. He inferred that the letters must have been cut in 1653, and his belief was confirmed when he learned that it was in that year that the sailor had spent some time in the area. The inscription had not only remained in the place where It was cut at the first, but as each year added to the growth of the tree, the letters still appeared on the surface, scarcely legible there, it is true, but perfectly clear at the core.

The same thing is true with human character. Many an old man, in spite of the rough usage of the world and the scar of time and trouble, bears upon his walk and manner of life marks which were put there in childhood.

When you read the second chapter of Exodus it is apparent that someone taught Moses to: have sympathy with the slave; despise injustice; know the folly of anger; and to defend the weak. I think I can see the loving influence of his mother behind all these acts.

When I look at Timothy, the companion of the apostle Paul, and see the faith and dedication, I am reminded of the teaching which had been done early in Timothy's life by his mother and grandmother.

The training we receive in early life we will carry with us to the grave. It's important, therefore, that our children are taught the right things now. We must not neglect golden opportunities.

--John Gipson, Shippensburg Messenger, 9/13/1992


"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:5-6). Christ is the only mediator between God and men, and we cannot be saved except through him. Those who reject Christ will be left out.

Not only is there one God and one mediator between God and men, but there is one body (Eph. 4:4). "But now are they many members, yet but one body." (1 Cor. 12:20). That one body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Christ is the head of the church, as the man is the head of his wife. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Eph. 5:23). That church is the one body, which is made up of Christians.

There are not two bodies - a kingdom and a church - for the church is the kingdom of Christ. This harmonizes with the statement that there is one body. Then there is "but one body", whether it be called "church" or "kingdom." Christ is the head of the church, or He is the King of the kingdom. 

--E.M. Borden, Gospel Preceptor, Oct. 2003

If you must get even with somebody, get even with someone who has done you a good turn.


Clarence R. Johnson
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