Matthew 16 & Identity: A Devotional

Written by
Curtis Hunnicutt
Published on
Read time
4 Minutes
Matthew 16 & Identity: A Devotional

Photo Credits: 

Photo by Tamara Gak on Unsplash


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“Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭17‬-‭18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Open eyes from God give us access to who we are. It gives us access to a new name and a new mission. The beginning of understanding who we are is when we dis-continue the belief that we ourselves are Lord. Simon, son of Jonah is accustomed to his calloused hands and sharp whit producing all that he needs in this life. And here we see Jesus inviting him into a new narrative — a new reality in which he is now tethered to a new method for progress. A method of shut-up, listen and follow the leader — especially when it’s difficult.

“Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!” But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.””‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭21‬-‭23‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Yet in almost the same breath, Peter, not knowing who Peter is yet, decides to let Simon come out to play again. Just because Peter is born, doesn’t mean that Simon is dead. Peter being born isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. As Peter learns to live, Simon now has to learn to die — but Simon, like Peter is a fighter who seems uninterested in sitting on the sidelines and watching somebody else drive the ship. Simon by himself is better than Simon-Peter together. They are oil and water. They don’t mix and they won’t mix. While that’s true, Simon still living doesn’t disqualify the new life of Peter. He will have to decide — Jesus is absolute Lord = Eternally designed identity — or Simon is Lord = Temporarily designed identity. While one is built to last, the other is designed to fall apart.

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭24‬-‭26‬ ‭MSG‬‬

He doesn’t tell them to run toward suffering, just not to run from it. We are to run toward Jesus. We are to pursue His nature and character and actions and rhythms of life. Whatever that may bring, is okay. It’s okay because what we see with our Simon-insufficient-eyes isn’t the end — but that’s the hard part. That’s where we need new eyes (that are developed by the new nature of Peter), because we’ve lived our whole lives as Simon, seeing through the eyes of our parents and circumstances and our vocation and hobbies and desires. Now, all of the sudden we are invited to a new plane and a new reality that we don’t understand. We were adults, now we are babies once again and we don’t much like it most of the time.

All of the metrics change in this moment of a new name. The money earned from the man who’s identity was steeped in business, the experiences that the vagabond immerses herself in to produce joy and freedom — even the life of knowledge and impact towards justice — all of these are now insufficient and a violent enterprise of patient and gentle extraction is about to take place. The new reality of this life comes into frame and the mission is given. Now there has to be trust that the reward promised is worth the missing out that we are about to embrace.

“Yes” is violence. Yes to something is a deliberate cutting off and a “no” to something else. Yes to a concert is no to a family game night. Yes to a career path is a no to another. Yes to Jesus is no to Simon being Lord and this life that we see being the end. Yes to Jesus sees this life as the means. He is the end.

““Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭27‬-‭28‬ ‭MSG‬‬