“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me;”
Matthew 16:23 (NIV)
One of the most beloved characters in the New Testament is the apostle Peter. It is likely that he is popular because although he is a towering figure he is also a clumsy one at times. Peter writes part of our Bible, preaches memorable sermons, makes glorious statements about Jesus, yet he is recorded as making some of the worst gaffes in the New Testament.
In Matthew 16:13-23 we read a story where Peter seeks to correct Jesus concerning Jesus’ mission. What happened was that as soon as the disciples confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus began to teach them that He had to go to Jerusalem and suffer, die, and be raised the third day. Jesus in fact spoke plainly about His humiliation at the hands of sinners.
Peter immediately took Jesus aside and contradicted what Jesus had just said. All of the disciples desired glory for Jesus, glory as they defined it. They had no idea how Jesus could be glorified through suffering. Neither can we when we suffer. We often are blind to the glory of suffering and, like Peter, wish it behind us.
Jesus swiftly rebukes Peter, calling him Satan, and saying that Peter did not have the mind of God in the matter but rather his own agenda. Certainly it was a low point in Peter’s relationship with his beloved Master. We are left to imagine how humiliated and embarrassed Peter was after the stinging rebuke of Jesus.
However, please realise that although Jesus may let one of His people stumble, He will soon enough lift them up again. The very next scene, 6 days later, Jesus lifts Peter up in a most remarkable fashion. The scene I refer to is in Matthew 17:1-8.
Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain where He is transfigured before them as He prayed. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah the two greatest Old Testament prophets appeared with Jesus and Luke 9:30-31 tells us that they had a conversation about the very events that Peter had denied would happen.
So Jesus was lovingly demonstrating to fallen Peter that if Peter would not listen to Him talking about His death and resurrection He would have others do so. This was Jesus’ way of getting Peter to accept the future that Jesus had determined would happen.
Peter seemed convinced of Jesus’ teaching and as Moses and Elijah started to leave Peter began to say that maybe he and the others should build booths like the ones Jews built every year for the feast of tabernacles. Luke 9:33 tells us that Peter did not know what he was saying. He was frightened by the scene and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. While Peter was speaking the Father spoke over him and said, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” Luke 9:35.
If you are a child of God and are confused at some unhappy event in your life you may expect Jesus to lift you up just as He did Peter. You may hear a sermon that exactly suits your circumstance, some loved one may visit and give you a verse to hold on to, a prayer may be said for you and suddenly you are lifted above the problem right into Gods presence. Expect Jesus to help you just as He did Peter so long ago. Call out to Him today and ask Him for the needed encouragement. Jesus is in the business of helping His people.