The End of Self-Agenda

By Alan Wright — July 11, 2019

You couldn’t have stopped Jesus from dying for you if you’d tried.

Today’s Text: “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” (Matthew 16:22–23, ESV)

You can learn a lot about a person by what makes them angry. We ought to pay attention to what made Jesus angry. This is one of those moments.

Today’s text comes on the heels of Jesus’ blessing and renaming the impetuous fisherman Peter. He’s Simon. Then he’s Peter. And then, he is Satan?

It’s shocking because Jesus doesn’t have words this strong for anyone else, with the possible exception of the Pharisees. But even then, Jesus speaks in generalizations that don’t feel so pointed. It’s one thing if you are part of a team and the coach says, “You all played like a bunch of losers.” It’s quite another thing if the coach picks you out by name at the end of the game and says, “Alan, you played terribly today.”

It’s understandable how angry He was at the religious leaders. After all, they wanted to kill Jesus. The Pharisees were condemning their people – enslaving them with legalism. You would think that Jesus would be mad at the ones who wanted to put Him on the cross; instead, He’s most mad at the man who didn’t want Him to go to the cross. What brings arguably the strongest rebuke recorded from the lips of Jesus are words from a friend whom He had just blessed. And it is a friend who earnestly speaks with noble intentions stemming from his love for Jesus!

I don’t think Jesus was mad at Peter; He was mad at the devil.

Matthew 4 reveals the greatest temptations of Jesus in His showdown with the devil in the desert. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread, to defy gravity, and to take an earthly throne. In other words, the Accuser tempted the Messiah to take a shortcut to glory – to use His divinity for His own gain rather than to fulfill His purpose for coming. When Jesus declares: “Be gone Satan,” (Matthew 4:10), He uses one word in the Greek: “Hypago.”

When Jesus rebukes Peter, He uses the exact same word: “Hypago.”

When Jesus heard Peter tempting Him to avoid the cross, He remembered the devil in the wilderness. He looked at Peter, but He spoke to the devil. Jesus got mad at Peter for telling Him not to die because Jesus came to die for Peter – and for you. And that’s the Gospel!

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