Just as I was about to head over to the farmers market before it closes, someone pointed out on a friend’s Facebook post that Jesus called Peter “Satan.”
I paused to type a quick comment in reply: “I’m not sure Jesus was actually calling Peter “Satan.” I think He was recognizing the one who was behind Peter’s words and helping Peter see it, too.”
And then I started thinking.
And now my sunny stroll through the market, my purchase of coleus if they still have it, will have to wait until Thursday.
‘Cuz I have something to say.
Remember back in Matthew chapter 4 when Satan tempted Jesus?
It was that third temptation that Jesus recognized in Peter’s words:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.
The offer was certainly tempting: Just sell your soul to me and you can bypass the agony of the cross.
Tough or not, Jesus was sticking with it. So He said, “Away from me, Satan!”
See what I mean about the one whose words were behind Peter’s words?
Jesus told His disciples about His upcoming death.
Peter pulled Him aside and exclaimed, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
And right away Jesus recognized that voice and He flashed back to that very high mountain and to the temptation to win an earthly kingdom full of faithful followers.
And He said no.
“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.”
See how similar “Away from me!” is to “Get behind me!”
You are a stumbling block to me.
Satan couldn’t get Jesus to abort His mission directly – way back in Matthew 4, at the dawn of His ministry – so he tried the back door at dusk, indirectly, using a loyal friend.
Because who can resist the loyalty of a friend?
But Jesus was way too smart for that.
Peter didn’t understand the magnitude of what Jesus was accomplishing. Peter didn’t understand that he was being used as a pawn in the enemy’s game. He didn’t recognize the enemy’s voice coming from his lips, but Jesus did.
Jesus addressed the one to whom He was speaking when He said, “Get behind me!,” and it wasn’t Peter.
Now that my mission to the market has been aborted, I think I’ll hang with the Holy Spirit – my best and most loyal companion – and vacuum the furniture.