Matthew 14 – 16 is our reading for today.
The text we look at today is from the 16th chapter following Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.
Who do men say that Jesus is? The disciple’s answers were that He was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other of the Old Testament prophets; giving answer to some comments people had made as to who He was. The all important question asked by Jesus at this point was, “Whom say ye that I am?” That is the clincher for the actual answer. Peter’s answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, and that is the answer by all who will have eternal life.
Following this confession of Peter, however, it seems that the devil himself confuses Peter, and is rebuked for his speech;
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’ But He turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)
From the time of the confession of Peter Jesus begins to teach them that His destiny is to go to Jerusalem and die. This is what the disciples were hearing, and that is the reason for Peter’s words of denial in the above passage of Scripture. Jesus didn’t leave the matter without hope; He did speak of His resurrection of being “raised the third day”, yet Peter’s response comes from the dark recesses of his being.
We must think about this for an instant. Peter loved Jesus, and to hear him speak of His coming death was a shock to his ears and heart. That, nevertheless, does not excuse his mind being opened for the devil’s use. Peter has been called “The disciple with the foot shaped mouth”, slow to think, quick to speak.
Can you just see Peter taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him. Peter, do you know what you are doing? He is thinking from the way of men, not the way of God, God’s Word and God’s will. Many a time I have heard said that Jesus is calling Peter “Satan” in His words. Not so. Jesus recognizes who the infiltrator is, though there is a two fold action here.
Jesus first directs His rebuke to Satan who has tempted Jesus before (Matthew 4:1-11); and then to Peter telling him that his heart is not on the things of God, but those of men. It is my conviction that the devil never wanted Jesus to go to the cross and die; he tried to misdirect our Savior from His atoning work; thus the temptations of chapter 4; the temptations from the masses to be king, and so forth; and now through Peter the devil attempts it again.
We must give our hearts to God, His Word and His will for our lives. We, like Peter, may not always be able to understand what is going on, in fact, we may never understand; we are called to trust, believe and be faithful in what God says. Jesus was faithful unto death. That is our calling as well.
-Tim A. Blankenship