Matthew 16:21-23 21From 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. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus 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.”
What was Jesus saying to his disciples? Why did Peter respond this way? Why did Jesus have a seemingly “over the top” reaction to Peter’s statement? Remember, prior to this, Jesus had asked his disciples who do others say that He is. He then asked them, who his disciples say that He is. Peter had answered, correctly, that He is the true son of God. By acknowledging who Jesus is; making the connection that He is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who had been foretold in the Old Testament, Peter first laid claim to affirming his faith in the divinity of Jesus. This acknowledgement by Peter was crucial. Without it, Jesus could not have proceeded any further in His ministry or teaching of His diciples
Peter had a very human response to Jesus’ revelation of things to come. Peter instinctively asserted that the fate Jesus spoke of would surely not come to pass for the Son of God. Peter failed to understand the heavenly plan, which was for Jesus to suffer and die for our sins. Peter also didn’t hear the resurrection Jesus mentioned, which would be the good news after the suffering! But why did Jesus respond so vehemently? What was it that Peter said that caused Jesus to call him Satan? Pretty strong words! Jesus knew that the only way to take on the sins of the world, the only way to forgive sin and wipe the slate clean was through the cross. Jesus had already been tempted by Satan at the beginning of His ministry. He was tempted three times in the desert. Three times, Jesus resisted Satan’s attacks by quoting Scripture. Surely, Jesus felt that Satan was behind Peter’s words as well. Jesus not only called out Peter for His lack of understanding, but called out Satan as well. For Jesus, there was no plan b. He knew what He was sent to do. There could not be, and would not be, anything that would stand in the way of Him dying on the cross.
What would the implications have been had Jesus bypassed the cross? Had he not suffered for our sins? Had He not fulfilled His ultimate promise of rising from the dead after three days? In our brokenness would we have had a God that knows what suffering is like? Would He have been able to relate to our struggles as we lay them at His throne of grace? Would He have been able to meet us at that place, where our source of pain and brokenness resides so that we can deal with it through grace and mercy? Would we have had the hope of redemption and healing after suffering in a broken world? Would He have been able to fulfill His ministry and lay claim to His divinity without the resurrection? Surely not. Peter’s reaction upon hearing Jesus reveal his fate is not unlike how we treat the pain in our own lives. We would rather bypass the pain than deal with it. It is definitely the easier way. Yet it merely masks our pain and doesn’t heal it. By going to the cross, Jesus shares our suffering. This allows us to trust our deepest hurts to His care because he understands. He’s been there.Through the resurrection we get the promise that on the other side of the pain and brokenness of life, there is healing and redemption. That’s the good news!
I sit in wonder at such strength and conviction to ministry and fulfillment of His Father’s plan that Jesus had to have. In considering what would have been had Jesus not died on the cross, I thank Him daily. It is in His strength that we are able to lay our troubles at His feet. In His strength are we able to rest in His presence. In His strength are we able to resist Satan and all his empty promises. In His strength are we able to believe in His promises of forgiveness of sin, grace, mercy and unconditional love. In His strength are able to believe in eternal life and salvation for those who believe in Him, as Peter proclaimed, in faith.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your sacrifice. Thank your for the strength and courage it took to face the cross and take on the sins of a broken world. Thank you for wiping the slate clean of our sins which gives me the freedom to live each day knowing my sins have already been bought and paid for. Thank you that I can rest in the truth that when I fall, I am forgiven and you have the authority to restore me and renew me in you daily. Praise God!