No Lord? How can you say that? — Matthew 16:21–23

The surprise of Jesus — part 4

40 blogs of Lent — day 25

It is always bad when you have been planning something and looking forward to it, only for something to happen that either puts your plans on hold. There is always a feeling of disappointment.

My wife and I will have been married for 40 years this coming April. What started as a bit of humour, a bad pun, became a plan. I said something about going to the West Indies and making out Ruby Wedding an Aruba Wedding. Then Covid happened a pandemic which affects every continent on the planet and makes international holidays in places which attract tourists from all over the world a really bad idea. Both parts of the Ruby Wedding celebrations are on hold, we can’t even have a party with family and friends. As for Aruba, whether we do it at all is a decision we have to yet make, I cannot at this stage see the world being safe enough to go in 2022 either.

I understand Peter’s disappointment in this passage.

A deliberately blurred image of pale blue circled spiralling downwards. At the bottom of the spiral the shape of a cross can just be made out.
Blur. Free image from Pixabay

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 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 16:21–23 ESV UK

At first glance it looks like it all changed here with Jesus starting to be open to his disciples about his suffering, But there is nothing new here — what has happened is that the cross, which had always been there at the back of Jesus’ teaching, became its focus. Was Peter’s declaration the thing that triggered the change? After all the disciples had already declared Jesus when he had calmed the lake a second time (Matthew 14:33) And Nathaniel had also said this earlier (John 1:49). Jesus was already planning on this, and getting the testimony from Peter was a way of testing this, after all he had teased the answer from the disciples.

Peter’s disappointment with Jesus was clear. Since following he would have had a picture of who the Messiah was, a a warrior prophet who would clear the occupying Romans from the land in the style of the Judges such as Gideon and Jephthah. They have now recognised Jesus as Messiah, but now they need to see what the Messiah is really like. Warrior does not come close to what Jesus came to do, in fact it is just the opposite,

So Peter says, “No Lord,” which is an oxymoron. If Jesus is Lord then Peter is a servant or slave, a slave is not in the position to say no. If Peter says No he is not yet seeing what the Lordship of Jesus means.

So Jesus, using hyperbole, calls Peter Satan. The name Satan means an adversary and it is used as an adversary of both God and of humans. It isn’t as if what Peter has said has come straight from the mouth of the Devil himself, Jesus is clear that Peter is thinking human thoughts. Peter wants a Messsiah who will rule over people, Jesus came as the Messiah who serves. It will take a complete u-turn in Peter’s thinking before he will be able to serve people and live up to the prophesy Jesus made of him. It will come, but it is not yet.

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One thought on “No Lord? How can you say that? — Matthew 16:21–23

  1. We all need to listen to the rebuking of our human thinking. So many times I fall into the trap of wanting the Way to be my way. With people, through social media, at every turn I am more likely to give the worldly response.
    Thank you God for your rebukes…
    .. And love.

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