Twenty second Sunday, OT: get behind me Satin


Get behind me Satan! What a harsh phrase for Jesus to speak. Why would He make such a statement to someone that was there to offer help, to someone that wished to protect him? Jesus, with four words, put Peter back in his proper place. He put him rightly back to being someone being a follower of Christ. He placed him back in the role of discipleship. On that journey with Christ, Peter was after all a novice. The journey was new, just as it is for everyone. Peter, in offering his help, tried to place himself as a leader of Jesus. He was still caught up in worldly thinking, and still viewed Christ as a worldly King. Peter had yet to truly grasp what Christ’s kingdom was all about. But why did he call him Satin? Did Jesus really consider Peter to be evil? Did he consider him to be the Devil? A little bit of scholarship hints that Satin is really a bit of a loosely defined term. Though today most people think of the Devil, it can also mean an adversary. An adversary moves in conflict with their opponent. They move in the opposite direction. Peter was moving in a path in conflict with Christ. Christ knew that his Passion and death were part of the plan, yet Peter could not reconcile himself with the suffering Jesus was going to endure. He denied Gods plan, and frequently that plan includes suffering. Denying Gods plan seems to be something that Peter struggles with, especially when he is challenged. Later he will again deny Christ when he is arrested. When Christ tells his disciples that they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him; Jesus is telling us not to be an adversary, or an opponent to Gods will. Suffering is after all a part of life, and it also is a part of discipleship. Folks suffer through many things in life. There is illness, financial struggles, and conflicts with almost everyone we meet; none of which should lead us to take our eyes off of Christ. Quite the opposite following him is the best way of carrying the crosses of daily life. Peter had to put aside his plans in order to follow Christ, he had to surrender to something that at once seemed unpleasant and incoherent. In surrendering to his will, he accepts the will of God. That is a description of being baptized into Christ. To go into the water is to die to ourselves, to be raised from the water is to live in Christ. Peter had trouble in hearing of Christ’s suffering, “get behind me Satin” is a lesson he will draw from many times as the rock upon which Christ builds his church. It is a lesson worth remembering.

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