Summary: With Easter being a few weeks away our focus begins to shift to Jesus' death and resurrection. When Jesus told his disciples about this one of them became a little upset. You know about Peter denying that he knew Jesus but that's just one of his denials.
With Easter being a few short weeks away our focus begins to shift to Jesus' death and resurrection. When Jesus began to inform his disciples about this one of them became a little indignant. You may be wondering if the sermon title has a typo. You know about Peter denying that he knew Jesus after Jesus' arrest but that's just one of Peter's denials.
1) Peter denied God's plan.
Matt. 16:21-26, "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, chief priests and 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 things of God, but the things of men.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Peter hears Jesus talk about being handed over and suffering and being killed and he's like, "I don't think so". I don't know if the 'raised to life' part escaped his notice or not but it's obvious his focus was on Jesus' torture and death. On the surface, it looks like Peter is just expressing his sorrow over his close friend having to endure such agony and then death. So why did Jesus rebuke Peter?
First of all, I don't believe Jesus is calling Peter Satan. Jesus is addressing the one who's behind Peter's behavior right now. Jesus said Peter didn't have in mind the things of God but of men. While I'm sure there was a part of Peter that was emotionally stricken over hearing what would happen to Jesus and so he expressed his heartache accordingly, there was something else going on here.
For Jesus to say what he did to Peter, it showed that Peter was not considering the will of God but only the will of Peter. Peter didn't consider what Jesus' death and resurrection would accomplish, his only concern was losing his friend. I believe another reason Peter was adamant that this wasn't going to happen to Jesus was because he thought, 'if you're gone what will that mean for me?'
Jesus' torture and death did not fit with Peter's plan. I don't know if Peter thought like some other people did, that Jesus was going to reestablish an earthly kingdom and restore godly order to the land; which no doubt meant that Peter would become a high-ranking official in king Jesus' court. But regardless, Peter wasn't thinking of the big picture; just his picture.
And then Jesus says, if anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Peter's mindset at the time would have been to avoid suffering. Not that we should want to run head-first into it, but Jesus' point is that sometimes God's will includes taking risks and suffering for the faith. If we have the attitude of Peter we will not do the will of God; we will not come out of our comfort zone. In that we will have in mind the things of man; not the things of God.
Doing the will of God is going to challenge us; it's going to pull us into unknown territory. This is what faith and trust is all about. This is what growing and becoming stronger in our walk is all about. God's purpose in challenging us isn't because he likes to see us full of anxiety; his purpose is to shape us into the image of Jesus. We can be like Peter and resist God's plan. We can deny God having his way in us or we can submit to God's plan and purposes and not be a stumbling block to God or others.
2) Peter denied Jesus' prophecy.
The scene is the Last Supper. Here Jesus reveals a prophecy concerning his disciples and again, we have Peter vocalizing his resistance.
Matt. 26:31-35, "Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same."