Word of the Week by Justin Breeden – Peter’s Rebuke
The Word of the Week – Peter’s Rebuke
From that time Jesus began to show 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 up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:21-23 NASB
In verse 21, Jesus gives His disciples the first of three very clear prophecies in Matthew’s Gospel regarding His soon coming death, burial, and resurrection (see Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:18-19). Hearing Jesus’ prophecy, the apostle Peter takes Him aside and begins to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
At Peter’s rebuke, Jesus turns away from him toward the other disciples and begins His own rebuke, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”.
Notice that Peter is rebuked in three distinct senses here:
- Get behind me, Satan! – The word Satan comes from the Greek term satanas which means adversary. While the word can be used as a proper noun to refer to the prince of the fallen angels (the devil), it can also be used in a generic sense to refer to any common adversary. Why does Jesus call Peter His adversary (Satan) here? Because at this moment in time Peter is standing in opposition to the very events that constitute the historical substance of the message of salvation! (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
2. You are a stumbling block to Me – A stumbling block refers to something that gets in one’s way. Therefore Jesus is saying that, at this moment, Peter was actually getting in His way. How so? Because Peter did not understand the implications of the prophesied events (Mark 9:32), he was actually attempting to lead Jesus away from the will of the Father for His life – namely His death, burial, and resurrection! “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
3. You are not setting your mind God’s interests, but man’s – Jesus says that Peter’s focus was set upon the things of the world rather than upon the things of God. In the context of the Gospel narrative it seems likely that Peter’s concern was for himself much more than for Christ. How so? Throughout the Gospels, Peter and the other disciples consistently showed a misunderstanding of the nature of the kingdom of God (Matthew 20:18-28; Matthew 18:1; etc.) believing that they were going to be given prominent positions within a great earthly kingdom when in fact the kingdom of God is something radically different (John 18:33-37)! At this moment, Peter was far more concerned about his own “kingdom” than the kingdom of God.
In closing …
- Those who are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ are, like the devil, adversaries of God. Repent and believe the Gospel!
- We never want to be a stumbling block in the life of another regarding the true will of God.
- Let us be focused on the things of God rather than the things of this earth. Whose kingdom are you seeking – your own or God’s?
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17 NASB
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you – Allelu, alleluia!
Seek Ye First, Karen Lafferty, 1948-
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