I believe that it is safe to say that we all think highly of ourselves. It is easy to believe that our opinions and preferences are the only ones that matter. This over-estimation usually reveals itself in personal conflicts with others. This is a trap that even the committed follower of Jesus Christ can fall into if they are not careful. So, are you over estimating your value?
I have thoroughly been enjoying our study “Life Lessons” that has been focusing on the life of Christ. You can check the messages out here. I was led to focus on an account of Jesus celebrating Passover on the night he was arrested. It corresponded with our practice of celebrating Communion on the first Sunday of the month. It was in this context of my studies that I came across a passage that reveals the disciple’s over confidence in themselves. Matthew’s account really touched my heart as I pondered the reality of the struggle for Christ that night. I was also moved by the meaning of the Lord’s Table, something that we can take for granted. I wonder if sometimes we dismiss the reality of Jesus struggle because of his Deity? Maybe we miss that the struggle was as real to Him as it would be to us! And it is in this context that I observed our Jesus’ follower’s over-confidence can cause this to not see genuine ministry opportunities.
The real insight came as I pondered Jesus’ revelation of His pending arrest. He says, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” (Matthew 26:31) And it seems that His followers missed the second part of what He said, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32) The reality of His followers’ betrayal in His greatest time of need would have added to His burden. Yet, there would be victory as He alludes to His resurrection. Yet, His followers got stuck on the first part of what He said. “Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”” (Matthew 26:33) Now, we know the story, but at this point we need to put ourselves in Peter’s shoes. He was the Jesus-appointed leader of the disciples. He would become the human point of the spear for what the Lord would accomplish. I mean this is Peter, the only person other than Jesus Himself to walk on water! Peter was not going to have none of this. The others might flee but not him. And here we see his inflated view of himself. His statement reveals that he thought he was better than the others, but he was not. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) There was a trial coming and because Peter was trusting in his own abilities, he was going to fall. It is interesting to note that Paul then says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
There is a lot more here, so you may want to check out the message. I was challenged by this quote from John MacArthur on this passage. He writes, “The incident recorded in 26:31–35 is integral to Matthew’s presentation of Jesus’ preparation for the cross. As He prepared to die for the sins of the world, Jesus needed to teach the disciples the need of continually dying to themselves and of never trusting in themselves.
So how about you? Is your view of yourself causing you to think you are better than others? Do you find that you have an exceptional amount of conflict with others? Could it be that you are getting in the way of what the Lord really wants to do in you and through you? It is only when we die to self that we become a channel through which the Lord can do great things. I speak as one who is learning.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson