Summary: A sermon for the 15 Sunday after Pentecost Proper 17 A sermon about Jesus telling Peter to get behind me Satan
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Today’s gospel lesson follows on the heels of last week’s lesson were we saw Peter make his confession. Remember last week, Peter was the hero of our lesson because he confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus had asked the disciples who do men say that I am? The disciples gave him many different answers, then he asked them, "but who do you say that I am?" Then we get Peter’s great confession of faith, "Jesus , you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter was a hero, he understood who Jesus really was, he understood that Jesus was no mere man, but a living part of the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus was the Son of God who came to this earth to show and to tell the people of God, the Israelites, about God in a very real and personally way. Peter had put it all together for that moment at least, he knew who Jesus was.
But in today’s lesson, Peter quickly changes from the hero to the goat, from one who is expounding some great truths, to one who is babbling and carrying on about things that he doesn’t understand, or even want to understand. Peter changes so quickly in fact, that Jesus equates him with the devil when he says, "Get behind me Satan" you are tempting me, you are hindering me you are trying to make me change my mind about the course that I am suppose to take. What did Peter do so wrong to change so quickly from the hero to a ghost in just a few short minutes?
After Peter’s confession, Jesus began to tell the disciples about what lie ahead for him. Jesus told the disciples that he would suffer at the hands of the religious rulers, he would in fact be put to death by these ruler, but God would raise him on the third day. Jesus was explaining the concept of the suffering servant, the suffering Messiah to the disciples, and Peter out of love and respect, out of his own ideas about the Messiah, out of his own sense of glory and righteousness took Jesus in his large arms and said, "God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen to you." Peter could not let Jesus suffer because he loved him so much, he could not let Jesus suffer because he could not believe in a Messiah that was nothing less than a conquering Messiah. He could not let Jesus suffer because that was not the dreams and the expectations he had of Jesus, and the dreams and expectation he had of himself as a followers of Jesus. No, suffering was not apart of all of this, thought Peter.
But Peter was wrong, suffering was apart of the plan that God had for Jesus. Jesus must suffer for the sins of this world so that our salvation would he secure in the person of Jesus Christ .
Jesus tells Peter it is the will of God for him to suffer, He says "You are a hindrance to me, for you are not on the side of God, but of men." Men cannot understand the workings of God, men have their own thoughts about the plans of God, Jesus is saying, but God’s plans are that I must suffer so that you will not have to suffer. Jesus tells Peter in a sense that he must understand what is the will of the Father for his son. Peter must understand that suffering is part of this plan, not glory, not riches, not a grand army, but suffering, death and the cross, then God will act to raise him on the 3rd day. God will bring life where there was death, God will bring glory where their was suffering, God will deliver Jesus from the hands of the devil and exalt him to the throne of glory at His right hand in the heavenly mansion in the sky. God will do all of this because he is a God of love.
Jesus then goes to tell Peter especially but the disciples also that everyone must take up his cross to follow him. Jesus is saying that being a follower of Jesus is no easy matter there is sacrifice, there is giving up things, there is suffering, there is setting priorities in ones life, so that those things which really do count, eternal life, have the priority that is number one. Jesus is telling the disciple and us this morning that whoever looses ones life for him, will will find it. Whoever forget about the demands, the values, the standards of this world, whoever is willing to live totally for Jesus, that person will find life in Jesus, that person will know Jesus as the savior of life.