Get Behind Me, Satan! – Mark 8:33

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Mark 8:33 NIV

At first glance this is a rather shocking statement from Jesus. Peter was one of his closest disciples, part of the inner circle. And yet Jesus identified him as Satan. Or at least appeared to do so. And it appeared that all Peter was guilty of was trying to protect Jesus; to keep him from harm. So what’s the big deal here?

Jesus was on his way to the cross. And he was preparing his disciples by letting them know what was coming. He was going to Jerusalem where he would be rejected and put to death by the Jewish leadership. But after three days he would rise again. It is likely Peter did not hear, or comprehend the part about rising in three days. Instead he focused on the dying part. I suspect if I had been in his place I would have reacted in the same way.

Peter was looking for Jesus to be the king of an Israelite kingdom. And his death would end that hope. So it must be prevented. Thus his attempt to challenge Jesus’ announced plans. But Jesus was not going to be the king Peter was hoping for. He was to be the king of a greater kingdom. And his death and resurrection were necessary for that.

How often am I like Peter? Having my own conception of what God is doing, or should be doing. And trying to convince God that my way is best. And in doing so I am acting as Satan, unknowingly trying to thwart the will and plan of God. How much better it is to be aligned with God’s purpose, rather than being at odds with it.

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