“Then Jesus said to Peter, “Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important.”
Matt. 16:23, NCV
Principles of the Kingdom will often will look like a simple conversation. Things are often established or nullified with a ‘face-to-face.’ In this chapter of Matthew we hear Peter extolling the divinity of Jesus (vv. 15-17). Peter exceeds the norm with his analysis of what is real. He is as perceptive as it is supernatural. “You are the Christ,” Peter proclaims, “the Son of the Living God.” Jesus responds to this and basically gives Peter a parade.
One of my personal problems is that I am way too spontaneous. Vacillating is my middle name. I have become a fool more times than I bother to count. I will do something that is outrageously amazing– and in a short time I am flirting with apostasy. Often this is indicative of bipolar disorder, a mental illness of some considerable significance.
I’m not sure why Peter does what he does. But just a short time after he makes his astonishing pronouncement, he is taken apart by Jesus, being solidly rebuked ‘face-to-face.’ In one clear moment he expresses an awesome and wonderful faith, and suddenly his personal stock suddenly and precipitously crashes. He is now a pariah that needs to be avoided. Every disciple will be scorched. But loved.
This is quite bitter. It seems that in the light from this chapter (actually seems like a bright glare,) Peter is astonishingly quite devastated. In three years of discipleship it seems that all he merits is a brutal ‘dressing-down.’
The rebuke is bitter. Peter is being compared to Satan!
In a blur of just a few minutes he moves from “hero-to-goat.” I suspect that Peter was ashamed. He most likely wished he had a “rewind button.” His savior, Jesus– has given him a new label. And it hurts. Many times, we would become resentful, maybe a bit bitter. It could cause some to walk away, developing an anger that solidifies into something very scary. Thank God, Peter doesn’t do anything stupid.
The correction in the rebuke gives him life, and a hope.
But who’s to say we would be as correctable? One thing to add, earlier we mentioned the ‘conversational approach’ of discipleship. Peter was rebuked in the presence of the other disciples. The publicity was embarrassing. Too many people were watching and listening. Peter will survive this, but he has learned something valuable.
Our daily commitment to Jesus hinges on our willingness to be “undone.” His heart and plan pretty much precludes any “secret or hidden” agenda. Jesus pretty much rakes us over the coals. He will insist on an uncompromising obedience to His faithfulness. Every true disciple will be scorched— but loved.