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.’
Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Who is this Satan?! We will discuss that person on another day. Suffice it to say that Peter, in his desire to see Jesus not suffer, did exactly what Satan did in this attempt to tempt Jesus away from his chosen and obedient path of suffering and death.
When Jesus rebuked Peter with that name he was not delivering an insult – he was revealing Peter’s own nature back to him.
To Jesus (and Peter), Satan was a real entity. If Jesus was the Word of God incarnate, then in his pre-incarnation state, before he came to earth in human form, he would have already known Satan, for, as we read in the opening of John’s gospel and in the letter to the Colossian church,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Satan was created – he had not existed in the pre-creation void.
Jesus goes on to talk about the topsy-turvy cost of discipleship – lose your life to find it – revealing that he will return to earth in glory and triumph, accompanied by hosts of angels.
Where do you think Satan came from?
Where do you think he is going?
Have you placed a value on your soul?
What reward do you expect to have when you see Jesus?
What do you think is the purpose and task of the angels coming with Jesus?
Father God, I pray that I will not let the faint-hearted discourage me from the path you have set before me, and that I will encourage others in what you have planned for them. Show me what I must take up and what I must lay down. Amen.
Lo! He comes with clouds descending. Has this choir captured the scene? What’s needed?