WHAT DID PETER DO?
MATTHEW 16:21-23 NKJV
21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
When we first look at this exchange between Jesus and Peter, it seems that Jesus was pretty tough on him. But remember our rule of thumb, when in doubt, always stay with Jesus. Always stay on His side.
Jesus had been explaining to His disciples what God’s plan was that He was to fulfill. Jesus was sharing with them what the prophetic scriptures had revealed concerning His future. He was to be rejected in Jerusalem by the religious leaders and would suffer at their hands. Then Jesus would be killed and rise again on the third day.
But Peter wasn’t having it. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. Not so good. Rebuking Jesus should never make anyone’s list of smart things to do. Peter was telling Jesus that being rejected and killed was not going to happen. At first glance, this makes perfect sense. Peter loves Jesus and does not want Him to be rejected and killed. I am thinking Peter completely missed the part about rising from the dead after three days.
Jesus saw something else in Peter’s rebuke. Jesus saw the work of Satan attempting to dissuade Him from going to the cross. Jesus knew the cross would be the most difficult endeavor of His life. He understood more than anyone else what was involved in His death. And not simply the intense physical pain involved. What about the spiritual pressure of taking on the sins of the world? I am sure we have no idea what that entailed. So Jesus did not need anyone pulling on Him to take a different path.
And there was something else involved with Peter’s passionate response to Jesus. Jesus said that Peter was being mindful of the things of men, not the things of God. If we look at this from Peter’s perspective, he would lose a lot with Jesus being rejected by the leaders and dying. Peter had a revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (verse 16). But to Peter and so many of that day, the Christ would set up an earthly kingdom and rule out of Jerusalem. For Peter, who was in the inner circle of Jesus, Jesus was his ticket to power and position. No longer would Peter be just a fisherman. Now he would be one of the top guys in one of the top ruling nations of the world. That’s pretty heady stuff. So when Jesus talks about being rejected and killed, this was surely a mistake. This path was not part of Peter’s vision for better things.
Peter was being concerned about his own future, not God’s plan to take away the sin of the entire world.
I am the last guy to criticize Peter. Because I realize that there have been times I was more interested in what Jesus could do for me personally than I was about seeing His kingdom expand and His will be done.
And just speculating, I don’t think I am alone in this error. It’s way too easy to become caught up in the things of men as opposed to the things of God. Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness. Thank God we can adjust and change. Peter did, and so can we.
Lord, forgive me for the times I have pursued my own plans and ways instead of putting You first. Help me to become more mindful of the things of God rather than the things of man.