by Roger Thomas

This content is part of a series.

Why the Cross? (6 of 7)
Life with Peter series
Roger Thomas
Matthew 16:21-23

At first blush, Peter's words sound strange. What was he thinking? Who did he think he was talking to? In just the previous section of Matthew, Peter had confessed his faith in Jesus as the Promised Messiah sent from God. But when Jesus began to explain what lay ahead, namely suffering, death, crucifixion, and resurrection, Peter decides to correct Jesus. Peter decides to correct Jesus!

Matthew phrases it in the strongest possible terms—"Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. [Rebuke Jesus!] "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Put aside for a moment, Peter's brashness. He actually had the gall to take upon himself the responsibility to correct the Messiah of God! But this was a part of Peter's personality it seems. But this time, Jesus takes him to task for his quick spoken and not thought through words. Jesus takes off the kid gloves. No beating around the bush. No being careful to not make Peter feel bad. "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."

I can't read Peter's mind, but he may have been thinking like this. "Jesus, now I know you are under a lot of pressure. You seem to be worried about what's ahead. But you don't have to be so negative. Chin up! Positive mental attitude and all that! If you keep talking about problems like that, then they are bound to happen." That could have been part of it.

But there was more. If Jesus was the Messiah as Peter had just confessed, then all of this arrest and crucifixion talk just didn't fit. What we have here are two totally conflicting viewpoints crashing headlong into each other. The term Messiah or Christ (neither word is English; the first is Hebrew and the second is Greek) means anointed one or chosen one of God. We read back into that term all that we know about J ...

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