“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
Is Peter the Devil? That is not Jesus’ intent here. The word Satan means “an adversary.” An adversary is one who opposes someone. Peter had become an adversary, opposing what Jesus said must happen to Him – that He must suffer, die and be raised back to life again. Peter was not the encouraging word Jesus needed. He did not know the mind of God on the matter of the saving Messiah. He was thinking only with human understanding and getting in Jesus’ way – discouraging Him. Peter needed to get behind Jesus and follow Him. Jesus really meant, “Fall in line behind Me, Peter!”
Have we ever been an adversary to the work of Jesus? Have we been a discouraging word from time to time? Because of our misunderstanding, fear or doubt we may find ourselves in such a position. At such times we also need someone to say to us, “Fall in line behind Jesus!” It is not easy for us to think with the mind of God. We are never going to be able to do that perfectly but with the Holy Spirit’s help we are able to think well enough to remain faithful in service to Him. Will we stumble along our Faith Journey? You bet we will. At such times the Lord will turn around to us, lift us up and help us continue to follow Him. Praise His Holy Name!
Heavenly Father, one of our low points in life is when we fail to be the follower of Jesus that we should be. We fall short too often. Help us be faithful to His work and not be distracted by the thinking of the world. We are different because of Jesus. Help us live in that difference with a strong witness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.