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 16:23
Hello friends! At least I THINK I can call you friends? The way Jesus sometimes talked to his friends, I’m starting to think there’s something WRONG with our concept of good relationships. You can see my full assessment of Jesus’ interactions with his companions in my new video “Was Jesus a Toxic Friend?” (@pastorajplatt). Seriously, when was the last time you called your bestie “S-A-T-A-N”? Well that’s exactly what Jesus did here. So what was the deal with this? Was Jesus being mean, toxic or simply too difficult for dear ol’ Peter? This passage is quite a challenge for some in our day because not being “nice” lies atop our modern pagan pantheon of moral failures. But was an oversensitive understanding of human conscience along with the bondage to maintain it within Jesus’ definition of a “friend”? Well, in short, the answer is: No. Wait, WHAT!? Hey I’m in the same boat as you. This one ruffles my feathers a bit, but at the end of the day I have to assume that since Jesus was, and is, God in the flesh that he knows something I don’t about friendship, the nature of people and how we should manage both. To put things in context, Jesus had begun to speak more freely about his coming death at the hands of his opponents. I’m sure this came as a shock to ALL of the disciples but maybe most of all to Peter who rebuked him sharply for his comments. Comical, right!? The creation, explaining to the Creator why his plans aren’t very well thought out. In response to all the “Peters” out there we’d say Jesus HAD to go to the cross. It was this very thing that he came to do. We see it clearly after the fact. Peter didn’t. But keep this in mind before you judge Jesus’ response and find yourself treading the same thin ice as closest disciple: Satan himself was the last one to suggest such a thing to the Messiah. That’s right. He did it in the wilderness when he offered God’s Son all the world’s kingdoms WITHOUT THE CROSS in exchange for Jesus’ allegiance in this world (see Matthew 4:8-10). The irony is it was the Father’s plan all along for the Son to inherit THIS VERY THING (See Psalm 2:7-8). Peter certainly had no idea what he was stepping into when he made literally the SAME suggestion to Jesus. So what are your thoughts? Did Jesus overreact? Was he just being too difficult? No, he wasn’t. In his own words, he had in mind the concerns of God. Without this basic concern we cannot be a true friend. What Jesus did in his death and in his rebuke of Peter was the MOST LOVING thing a true friend could possibly do. If we want to experience his life, we should seek to do the same. Just something to think about while we live in a culture that seems to value exactly the opposite.
If you had to sum up Jesus’ difficult moments with his friends in one word, what would that word be? Explain.
Have you ever had a difficult moment where a friend corrected you and they were right? How did you respond at the time and what would you say to them in hindsight?
Watch my new video “Was Jesus a Toxic Friend” (@pastorajplatt) and explain how you can start being a more Christ-like friend to others today!