By Allen White
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:21-28
Jesus rebuked Peter for thinking like a human. It’s easy for humans to think that way.
Jesus’ mission was never one of comfort and ease. He was born in a stable. Jesus had no place to lay his head. He and the disciples had no security, no income and no pantry. All of this sacrifice led to the fulfillment of His mission -- false accusation, ridicule, torture and death – so our sins would be forgiven. By all human measures, Jesus’ life was not up and to the right.
The conditions Jesus and His disciples lived in were not terribly different from other people at the time. This wasn’t Fifth Avenue penthouses compared to the Occupy Wall Street camp (and the Occupiers all have homes somewhere). Jesus and His disciples lived on less than the average person did, but not noticeably so.
Peter wanted a better outcome for the “Son of the Living God.” He didn’t want to see his friend, his teacher, and his leader suffer and die. Peter wanted a Messiah to rescue him, but he didn’t want a Savior. He didn’t understand the path to glory. His perspective was quite human.
Standing in the way of God’s plan, according to Jesus’ terms, is satanic. Granted Peter wasn’t offering animal sacrifices or getting pentagram tats, but his resistance to God’s plan landed him in opposition to Jesus. If you’re not on Christ’s side, you become anti-Christ.
How could Peter go from such a brilliant epiphany (Matthew 16:16) to a satanic confession (Matthew 16:22) in the same conversation? Consider the source. The proclamation about Jesus’ deity couldn’t have come from Peter. It was revealed by God. The “Never, Lord!” was all Peter -- Peter’s perspective, his attitude, and his words.
Peter didn’t have a divine perspective on Jesus’ mission. Jesus gave him that: “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done” (Matthew 16:27). But, Jesus also gave some Kingdom principles for all of His disciples (including us) to follow:
- Deny yourself.
- Take up your cross. (Read a little on cross-bearing here).
- Follow Jesus.
- Lose your life to save it.
- But, Gain the world and you forfeit your soul.
Humility is not thinking less about yourself. True humility requires thinking of yourself less. Jesus doesn’t want you to have a terrible life. But, the good life you think you ought to have falls short of the glorious life He has planned for you.
None of us would ever want to stand in God’s way let alone be considered “satanic.” Where do your plans conflict with God’s plans? Where do your hopes and dreams interfere with what God wants? How often do you think about what God wants for your life? I’m not saying these things to discourage you.
God has promised us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Jesus said He would give beyond what we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Maybe we’ve lost a little of our imagination. Maybe we’ve overly focused on our human perspective. Have we settled for less than what God has for us?
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