It is quite obvious that Peter didn't like what Jesus was saying. I mean Jesus wasn't trying to be obscure about the meaning of what he was saying at all. He wasn't sharing this spiritual truth in some parable that required you to sit down and contemplate the meaning behind it. No, Jesus was talking quite plainly and sharing with his disciple exactly what was to happen and Peter made it very clear he didn't like it at all."From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law,and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:16-23 (NIV)
Picture the scene. Jesus has just finished sharing about his death, burial and resurrection and Peter doesn't like what he heard, so he asks Jesus to speak with him off to the side and, according to the Bible, begins to REBUKE Jesus. REALLY? What audacity for Peter to think that he could pull aside and rebuke the Son of the Living God! Is he for real? Who does Peter think he is?
Now I know some of you are wanting to come to Peter's defense by thinking that maybe he really didn't know exactly that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the Living God! I mean if Peter didn't understand Jesus' true identity that would be a reasonable excuse for his disrespectful behavior, right? But wait a moment! Is that accurate? Did Peter not know who Jesus was and that he was the Son of Living God ? The truth is that Peter knew exactly who he was talking to and what Jesus' true identity was! Let take a look at the verse right before the ones we just read:
There it is right there in front of our faces! After Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" It was Peter who said, "Your are the Messiah (Christ) the Son of the living God." It hadn't been more than ten minutes between Peter great confession and Peter's great stupidity. Peter knew exactly who Jesus was. It was God the Father, himself, who had revealed that spiritual truth to him. Now, we see Peter feeling as though has the right to pull Jesus, the Son of the living God, aside and REBUKE him and all because he didn't like what he's hearing!"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.' Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah." Matthew 16:13-20 (NIV).
Now I don't think that Peter's intentions were bad! I think that Peter loved Jesus with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. I think Peter was only looking out for Jesus' best interests and actually thought he was doing the right thing! But with all of Peter's best intentions Peter was still being a stumbling block to Jesus.
"What?" You might be thinking. Peter becam a stumbling block to Jesus? Please understand those aren't my words, that's what Jesus said. Jesus said that Peter's best intentions was used to be a stumbling block to him. Jesus actually called Peter Satan. "Get behind me Satan." Right there at that particular moment Peter, who loved Jesus, was being an instrument that Satan was using to try and tempt Jesus not to go to the cross. Even though Peter had the best intentions he was not only a stumbling block to Jesus but also an instrument of Satan!
Why? Why was Peter a stumbling block and why was he able to be used by Satan? Because even though Peter's intentions were meant to be good they were based from man's concerns and not God's concerns. Peter's concern were to protect and keep Jesus safe but God's concern was the salvation of the world. Jesus was not sent to be protected, he doesn't need human protection, but he was sent to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world. In order for God to actualize his concern Jesus had to die and Peter actions based from his concern became a stumbling block. The lesson that Peter was learning was that it's not about our will but all about God's will being done.
How many times have we been Peter? How many times have we tried to rebuke God for what he was doing? How many times have we had all the best intentions to do the right thing but lacked the spiritual understanding and faith to accept God's wil? How many times have our actions became a stumbling block to Christ's mission being accomplished?
For me the number is to hight to count. As I look back over my life and ministry I realized that so much of what I tried to do was based from my own concerns and interests and not God's at all. It's strange to think about but how many times have I prayed for God to do something because that's what I really wanted to happen but never took into account what God was trying to do? It has been a humbling lesson to learn that even my prayers can become a stumbling block for Christ's mission to move forward!
So what do we need to do? I believe it all starts with two things: Faith and Revelation.
First, we need to make sure we have the faith to surrender our will over to Gods will. We need to get to a place in our spiritual walk where we have no will of our own except to do the will of God. Faith is the emptying of ourselves from our own personal desires so that we can wholeheartedly believe and accept God's desires.
And then second, we need God to reveal to us His will to us! God's will is never discovered as though it is some hidden treasure. No, God's will is always revealed by God to us his people. We need pray that God will give us eyes to see and ears to hear when God is telling us what he's about to do. This is where Peter failed. Peter was receiving a clear revelation of what was to happen to Jesus through his death on the cross and resurrection but Peter didn't have the faith to surrender his personal desires over to God and die to them so that He would be able to accept what God's will really was.
Let us all pray that we don't act upon our BEST INTENTIONS but that we always have the FAITH that we need to act upon GOD'S INTENTIONS as he reveals them to us.