Passage: Mark 8:27-33
At a certain point in his ministry, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say I am.” They give various responses: “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus asks, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter alone responds, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God!”
The very next thing Jesus tells them is that he is going to be arrested, abused by the religious authorities, and killed. Peter, outraged, takes Jesus aside and tells him to stop talking such nonsense. Jesus looks Peter in the eye and says, “Get behind me, Satan!”
What has Peter done to deserve such a dressing-down?
The name “Satan” means adversary. Throughout the Bible the term is used as a proper name for the fallen angel who is God’s arch-enemy. But it’s also used for anyone who opposes God’s way. God’s plan of redemption for all humanity hinges on Jesus’ arrest; torture; death and resurrection. It has to happen. But who can blame Peter for wanting to prevent it?
Jesus, apparently. Why? Because Peter has allowed what Peter wants to get in the way of what God wants. It turns out everyone – even the disciple closest to Jesus – has the potential to be a satan – an adversary of God. All it takes is placing what we want ahead of what the Lord wants. How does one guard against becoming a unwitting adversary? Know Jesus well enough to know what he wants. Know yourself well enough to know what you want. And love the Lord enough to sacrifice what you want for what he wants.