He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:31-33 NIV)
This passage comes immediately following something we know as the “Good Confession.” The “Good Confession” is where Jesus asks His disciples who they believed Him to be and Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Matthew gives us a more complete rendering of the confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
One of the points people have often made regarding this passage is how we can go from bring spiritual experts in the kingdom to total goof-ups. One moment Peter was praised by Jesus for knowing who He was and the next minute he was blasted for standing in the way of God’s plan.
Why do you suppose Peter rebuked Jesus?
Obviously, Peter (and the other disciples) didn’t understand the full nature of the kingdom. They were still thinking in terms of an earthly reign with Jesus as the King and His subjects ruling the earth. Certainly the kingdom did involve filling up the earth with the Lord’s glory, but it wasn’t going to be the kind of earthly kingdom people were used to seeing. Therefore, Jesus’ suggestion He was going to be killed ran counter to Peter’s vision.
Secondly, Peter may have been convinced there was no way he and the others were going to let Jesus die. He was living under some sort of delusion they could withstand Jesus’ enemies. In Matthew’ record we discover Peter told Jesus, “This will never happen to you!” But it did.
More than anything, Peter’s statement, that led Jesus to tag his words as satanic, was presumptuous. It presumed Peter knew more than Jesus did about His Father’s plan, and that he and the others could somehow change His course of action.
Poor Peter. He meant well, but he looked pretty bad here because he was so out of sync with God’s plan for our redemption.
“Presumption” is a problem…for all of us. I will put myself in the hot seat and say I often presume to know more than God. That’s why I take important steps in my life without consulting God, and ask Him what went wrong when I fail.
I presume I know then presume God should have known what I didn’t know.
Does this make sense? Well, it might to me…but something tells me God isn’t fooled by my logic.
Presumption can get us all in a lot trouble. It is better to do our best to learn, discern and trust. Peter would eventually get it and God would use him in a mighty way. God has a way of working all of the presumption out of us…if we are willing.
Dear God, help me presume less and trust more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.