Summary: We can see how quickly satan can attack. In a short time Peter went from confessing Jesus to rebuking Jesus. Jesus teaches us how we can be on guard against our wiley foe as well as how to live with purpose for Him.
(see also Mark 8:27-30) for context.
Dear beloved in Christ...
In our Gospel reading there is much to grab our attention as Jesus is in process of predicting his death and resurrection. We hear about how Jesus must suffer many things and that we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. These are the two verses within our reading that are most focused upon and for good reason. We will focus on those verses as well today but, I would like to bring your attention to a question that is often overlooked within the context of what Jesus is saying today. The question is, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
I am sure you have seen that question entertained within the reels of Hollywood. We have observed stories that depict a person seeking fame or glory of some sort and a well dressed person coming to the dreamer’s aid. The well dressed person is of course Satan who offers the dreamer a contract. Sign with your blood and all that you desire will be yours. After the dreamer signs the contract, he obtains his dreams but, the devil often does something to destroy both the dreamer and the dream in the end.
If the devil approached us with contracts to trade our eternal soul for a brief stint at fame and fortune, I would think most Christians who place their love and trust in the Messiah would simply say, “No way” and go on with their days. But we know that the Devil does not come at us so plainly.
I would like you this morning to think about Jesus as your pastor. When you hear the words you are about to hear in just a moment, please look past this overweight 42 year old man who stands at the pulpit (as I pray you always will do) because I don’t want Jesus’ words to be stifled. There should be nothing in your spirit that seeks to interfere with Jesus’ word’s either and the reason I bring this request to our attention is because in our text we can see how easy Satan can come into the most dedicated of Christian souls and twist the truth.
Just moments before Jesus began to explain his ultimate purpose for coming to this world, Peter shared a confession of faith and the power behind that confession was indeed the Holy Spirit. Peter, in response to Jesus’ question of, “Who do you say that I am”, said, “You are the Christ.” Now if Peter were in our congregation right now, he would be just like you and I. He would be confessing his faith before his Christian family and before his Lord. He would recognize that the Holy Spirit lives within him and has created in him the faith into which he clings. Yet to show us just how sneaky the devil is and to convince us of how quickly the ground upon which we stand can become overturned by such things as pride, selfishness & stubbornness to name a few, we have Peter’s next statement of faith to read.
Immediately following the words of Jesus that spoke about what the future held for him; that Jesus would suffer many things, be killed and rise again in three days Peter rebuked Jesus. Jesus would have none of this personal pride, selfishness and stubborn nature that Peter displayed in his rebuke. Some could say, “Peter simply loved Jesus enough to not want him to suffer. Peter also was too wrapped up in those words of death that he totally looked past the words of life that Jesus offered.” But Jesus did not recognize those possible excuses. Instead Jesus said to Peter, “get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
So instead of Satan bringing a contract for us to sign in our own blood, the devil works to manipulate our spirit so that we would rather have in mind the things of man. I am quite doubtful Peter even realized that the rebuke he gave to Jesus would move Jesus to mark Peter’s words from Satan. Just moments ago Jesus gave the Holy Spirit credit for the confession Peter offered and then right away comes a rebuke from Jesus. How quick the devil seeks to tear away at our faith, at our confession and at what our purpose is to be in Christ.
Jesus as our pastor reminds us not to have in mind the things of men. Jesus our pastor reminds us of who seeks to attack and destroy us. Jesus as our pastor now shows us what else he wants us to reflect upon in this Gospel text so that our response to Jesus can be more like Peter’s first confession rather than his second.