"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Matthew 16:21-23 -- Rebuking Jesus, Misunderstanding the Mission of the Christ

So last week in our Matthew 16 study we talked about the religious teachers asking Jesus for a sign and Peter declaring that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of the living God.  Today I want to continue with some thoughts on the next three verses:

 21From 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.
 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
 23Jesus 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."


Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ (vs. 16) yet failed to understand Jesus' mission.  Did he still have thoughts that this Messiah was going to be a political savior so this talk of Jesus' suffering and death provoked this heartfelt rebuke that these things would never happen to Jesus?

Peter rebuked Jesus and then Jesus addressed Peter as Satan, called him a stumbling block (why?) and declared Peter had human things in mind not what God wanted.

Did the disciples hear the suffer and kill parts and not the "be raised to life" part?  But doesn't bad news most always SPEAK LOUDER than good news?

I wonder how often we rebuke God (or holy men of God) for His will which seems harsh and/or distasteful.

I suppose the key is to remember God's ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than ours as Isaiah records. And if God is good then can we not trust Him even when our circumstances appear awful from our earthly perspectives?

What stands out to you from this passage or this post?


Amber said...

I always thought that St. Peter's cry that this couldn't happen to Christ was out of love. 'No, not you!' This sort of horror at something terrible happening to a person that you know and love and respect. You want to spare your loved ones pain, and to hear one announce that they will be tortured and killed...I think St. Peter can be forgiven missing the resurrection portion of the speech, a little.

I don't think the disciples really understood everything, no, but who could? Until He had died and resurrected, who could really understand and believe?

Susanne said...

Amber, yes, of course, I believe Peter meant it out of love for Jesus. I should have brought that out instead of the political savior part. I was thinking more Jewish instead of Peterish!

Thanks for what you added!

sanil said...

I think rebuking God is a natural thing that comes whenever things are harsh. When something bad happens to us, we may blame God and be angry about it. The whole field of theodicy is about finding a way to explain away the evil in the world because the natural reaction when you believe God is in control and also see that people suffer is to wonder why and become angry.

When Abraham was upset at God and insisted He could not do something like destroy an entire city, God did not accuse him and say he had no right to criticize, he struck a compromise. I'm not sure whether it's right or good to blame God, but God in the Jewish tradition at least doesn't seem to mind that people do.

Jesus' reaction here seems stranger to me. Maybe it's not so much rebuking Peter for being upset, but frustration at Peter, who had seen all the miracles, not believing him. It's one thing not to understand God's plan and to be angry from our limited perspective, and another not to trust a friend you've been with and have every reason to believe. Another explanation I have heard before is that Peter's disbelief and desire for Jesus not to die was tempting for Jesus, who himself prayed that the cup of suffering be taken from him. So he tells Peter to hush and not tempt him to abandon the plan.

Susanne said...

Sanil, thanks for adding your thoughts. Yeah, the "stumblingblock" part does make it seem as if Peter were tempting Jesus. My Quest Study Bible said Jesus called him "Satan" because like Satan, Peter was tempting Jesus to abandon the Father's plan and Jesus also knew from whom (Satan) this sort of temptation came.

Good stuff! I appreciate what you added to the discussion.