You think you know someone. You spend time each other. Eat together. Laugh together. Maybe you and the other person or persons have a common mission (so you think) and every thing is hunky-dory. Then they have the nerve to call for a redefinition of the status!
Simon Peter had just had a good moment with Rabbi Jesus and then his parade was rained on. By parade I mean that Simon Peter got the right answer to a bottom line question of Jesus and then was reaffirmed to be the first among the apostles. Life is good this beautiful day until it’s not.
Matthew 16: 21 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, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 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.”
Being called Satan by the Son of God must have been devastating. First, Peter knew now for sure who Jesus was and was esteemed by Him. Even more, Peter was trying to impose his will over Jesus because his heart was overwhelmed with Jesus going away from life as he knew it in every way.
Yes, the message of the cross is foolishness to the carnal mind. But as we see in the words of Jesus, these were “merely human concerns.” To have those are not in themselves evil but if what you do them is superimpose those concerns over what the Lord says is flipping the paradigm of surrender that a disciple is called to.
This begs the question; was Jesus mean? No, I know Jesus loved Peter. Jesus loved Peter as an uneducated fisherman with warts and all. But He loved Peter too much to let him stay that way.
And we see later that it worked. Peter says later when many disciples desert Jesus in John 6:68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
That is a sign that Peter benefited from the rebuke in a way that was not entirely obvious. Peter uses Holy One to emphasize how Jesus is worthy of their dedication. That was a stone laid on top of his rebuke he received. But later, it gets much better.
Fifty-three days after Peter’s worst nightmare came true, the kingdom that Jesus preached was coming into bloom. It was Pentecost, or the Feast of Trumpets and Peter uses that term again but now with resurrection after the realized nightmare behind him. Quoting the Psalms he says, “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your Holy One see decay.”
Is the opposite of belief, unbelief? I heard a good case made by Steven Ray recently that the opposite of belief is disobedience because the word “belief” is a pregnant word that presupposes obedience. Peter could have learned from the Obedience 101 of the movie Rudy. “There is a God and I am not Him.” Ideally, when Peter was presented the game changer for discipleship, he would say as we should say, “Your will be done.”