I tend to look at Paul with all of his discipline, intelligent words, and joy in suffering, and I just don’t see much of myself there. But Peter. Peter, I can relate to.
Unqualified on his own, spontaneous, “just fix it” personality, full of passion, but saying all the wrong things at times. So often I read accounts of Peter’s actions and think to myself, Oh, Peter. But then…oh, wait…that sounds like me.
In Matthew 16 we see one of Peter’s roller coaster moments. Jesus asks who people say He is, followed by a question to the disciples, “Who do YOU say that I am?”
Peter rightly responds that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Go, Peter! This is a high point indeed in his life so far. Peter is the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah; the Son of God.
Jesus praises Peter, saying what was revealed to him was from God. He says He is going to build His church through him; give him the keys of the kingdom. Peter must have been feeling pretty special. He finally got something right.
Unfortunately, it is very short-lived. Peter, Peter, Peter (Joani, Joani, Joani).
When Jesus begins to tell His disciples what will happen to Him—suffering, being killed, rising three days later -- Peter steps in. He just can’t help himself. This is the Christ. His friend. Peter wants to take charge and do things the way he thinks they should be done, which doesn’t include suffering and dying, that’s for sure.
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” Jesus responds. Ouch!
It seems pretty harsh at first glance, but this was serious business to Jesus. This is what He came for, and no friend or foe is going to thwart it. Jesus even mentions the rising from the dead part, but all Peter hears is the suffering and dying.
The devil is tricky, and no one knows this more than Jesus. Peter’s intentions weren’t evil. He loved Jesus. He didn’t want Jesus to suffer, or be rejected, or killed. Who can blame him? But this wasn’t God’s plan, and Jesus knew it. He recognizes the devil’s tricks, encouraging us to seek comfort, control, security. Avoid pain at all costs.
We want to fix things, and all too often we go to our own solutions instead of to God. In our fix-it mode, we could be preventing a mighty work of God on the other side. We think we are making things easier, but God isn’t about easy. God is about holy.
God’s plans often look different than our plans. Jesus was speaking of the MOST important thing. The REASON He came to earth in human form. To endure suffering and to die for our sins. He wasn’t going to take anyone trying to stop it, even His friend, Peter. He couldn’t let this slide. He had to call Satan out.
Like Jesus, we too can utter the words, “Get behind me, Satan!”
Have you ever been fired up for God about something or very diligent in His Word and felt attacked? And often the attack comes out of nowhere, entirely unrelated to the work you are doing. Maybe a stinging word from a friend, challenges at home, strife at work, or some part of your life seeming to fall apart. When we are earnestly seeking and doing the things of God, the devil works overtime to try to trip us up. Being fully aware of this is the first step to pressing through it.
I’ve started to follow Jesus’ lead and crying out, “Get behind me, Satan!” Just saying these words can change my mindset, allowing me to see these kinds of attacks for what they are and ready to get back to the things God is calling me to do. It is a valuable weapon.
God, help me to have eyes open to Your plans, not the devil’s distractions. And when I am pressing into Your holy plans, join me in shouting, “Get behind me, Satan!” when the devil slithers in to do his thing.
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