What a powerful statement, right? I didn’t say it, Jesus did.
In class we have the honor of reading the New Testament in Greek, and our last class session we translated Matthew 16.13-28, and I would suggest reading it right now before you continue reading. Read it a couple times, feel the atmosphere in the text, feel the narrative, remember Jesus chose these twelve dudes to change the world, and He also knew He had to die soon.
Discussing this in class we, of course, touched on the issue with Roman Catholicism and the Pope claiming authority through Apostolic Succession through Peter, whom Jesus calls the Rock verse 18. Though I do not want to labor the issue there, for I’m Protestant, and if that does not tell you what I think you can research the issue. What I desire to focus on is Jesus proclamation to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” in verse 23. If Peter is the disciple’s spokesman, than it can be safe to assume he represents them corporately. In verse 18 Jesus affirms what Peter says about the Son of Man. The Son of Man is Jesus the Christ, not John the Baptizer, not Elijah, not Jeremiah, and not another prophet. The Son of Man is Jesus. “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah!” (Peter’s name before it was Peter was Simon). Wow, the Son of Man, the divine God/man, says to Peter, “Blessed are you” simply for acknowledging a truth. So, what happens? Why does Jesus yell at Peter?
First, the simple structure of 13-28. Look with me. Verses 13 through 20 Jesus is asking who the Son of Man is, and once He gets the answer there is a page break. Then, 21-28 is what the Son of Man came to do. If you know a little bit about the Old Testament and Jewish history, you might recall that many Jews were expecting a Conquering Messiah because they were under the rule of the Roman fist, but here Jesus says, nay, I am the Suffering Messiah.
You might imaging the shock, the Son of Man was supposed to come and overthrow the dominion of man, to set the captives free, to give the nation back to Israel, and so on. Peter and the disciples admitted that Jesus is this Messiah, and then Jesus says, You are correct, but also wrong. I will not overthrow the Romans, but I will overthrow your sinful hearts, and to do this I must suffer and die. “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Hmmmmmmmmm. Affirmation declined?
Remember what Jesus knew. The twelve in front of Him must change the world, He must go and suffer and die on a cross. These notions are floating in His mind, He has set everything in motion for it to be so, has agreed to follow the will of God until He breaths His last on the cross whispering, “It is finished” and here is a man whom confesses Him as Lord, and the Son of Man, and he says, No Jesus! Don’t go!
“Get behind me, Satan!” Why? because Peter was tempting Jesus to do something contrary to the will of God. What does Jesus say to Satan in the desert? “Away with you, Satan!” Matthew 4.10. Peter was fulfilling the work of the devil, simply by suggesting that Jesus ought not die. So, what does this show? Jesus, being fully God, was also fully man. He knew He had to die, but do you think He was afraid to? I do. If you love Christ, could you imagine telling Him, “No.”?
Think about it? How often are we saying “No.” to the will of God? Would Jesus say to us, “Away with you, Satan!” Check this parable out: Matthew 25.31-46
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus finishes talking to the disciples and says, “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me” What if taking up your cross meant you had to be nailed to it? The will of God, the narrow path, is what separates the sheep from the goats.