Jump Start # 2174
Matthew 16:23 “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Our verse today is harsh. The image of the smiling Jesus who leaped through flower fields, making everyone feel happy, patting children on the head and helping the less fortunate certainly cannot be found here. The manufactured Jesus of modern times likes to ignore passages like this one. It’s there. It’s real.
Having revealed the coming church/kingdom concept, Jesus then detailed His coming death. He knew the place, Jerusalem. He knew the key people who would lead this, the chief priests and elders. He knew what they would do, suffer many things and kill Him. He knew the time table, after three days He would be resurrected. Jesus knew all of these things going in to this. Not only had the prophets told about this, but Jesus was sent from Heaven for this. He was to be the lamb that was sacrificed for the sins of mankind.
Peter heard enough. It wasn’t going to be this way. He, in private, began to rebuke Jesus, which is astonishing. Peter said, “God forbid it.” No, God was for this. Remember, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” It was God who gave. It was God who sent. No, God would not prevent this. Then, Peter said, “This shall never happen to You.” Did Peter know things that Jesus didn’t? Had Peter’s wishes came true, we’d not have the church, saved people, nor would we have hope, forgiveness or reconciliation with God. Jesus had to go to the cross. Peter just didn’t get it. He was hoping to be an encouragement and instead he became a major discouragement.
This is where our verse is found. Peter’s mind was on man’s interests, not God’s. Peter was not helping Jesus. He was a stumbling block. It would be hard enough for Jesus to go through these things, knowing what was to happen, and to lack the support of His those close to Him, further complicated things. And, then, in the most cutting remarks, the Lord said, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
Peter was not the devil. But his standing in the way of the Lord, was helping Satan, and not helping the Lord. Peter was acting the role of Satan. In many ways, Peter had become Satan’s puppet. Satan didn’t want salvation for our sins. Satan didn’t want a resurrected Jesus. Satan would do anything to prevent this. His words, though he thought were helpful, were not. He was not making things better. Jesus had to go to Calvary, with or without Peter’s support. Peter was making things more difficult.
This makes me wonder if it is possible for you and I to stand in the same shadows of Peter. Is it possible that we become Satan’s puppet. Rather than helping, we hurt. Rather than pursuing the things of God, we follow man’s interests. Instead of helping, we hurt.
This happens when we refuse to forgive and let things go. Like a scab, we continue to pick the wound, bleed and we never fully heal. We continue to tell others about how someone hurt us. The crowd of our supporters continues to grow. Sadly, much too often, months, even years pass, and we are still picking that scab and still keep those wounds open. We become so obsessed with what happened to us, that we forget God’s interests. We remain the victim and we by our words and actions, keep things stirred up and become the reason that some never feel united and included. Get behind Me, Satan!
This happens when we focus so much upon our schedules and not the good that can be accomplished by the work being done in the congregation. We are so tired, we complain. We don’t have time to come to more classes, more preaching, more opportunities. Not only do we not come, but we let our protests be heard by others. Not again. Not another meeting. And, rather than participating, growing and becoming stronger, we ignore such wonderful opportunities. We’re just too busy. The kids have too much going on. Rather than inviting co-workers and family to opportunities to hear the Gospel preached, we don’t show up ourselves. And, in the background we hear the Lord saying, You have your mind on man’s interests and not God’s.
This happens when we try to reshape the church into something it is never intended to be. We want social activities to keep young teens occupied. We want to get together and have sessions where we can complain and cry about how bad things are. We want the church to look and act like all the churches around us. And, when our suggestions are met with raised eyebrows and negative reactions, we become upset. What’ wrong with those people we think. Truth be, our minds may be on man’s interests and not God’s. What is the role of the church? What is the church supposed to do?
This happens when, like Peter, we believe our words are helpful, but they are not. Telling someone in a troubled marriage, “I wouldn’t put up with that,” plants the idea of leaving. Telling someone that “you deserve to be happy,” gives them a green light to break a commitment that they have made. “I wouldn’t do that,” or, “I’d give him a piece of my mind,” sounds wonderful when you are not the one who has to live with those consequences. Advising someone to just walk away from a marriage, quit a job, confront some injustice, sounds great from the back seat. It’s when you are in the driver’s seat that all of this looks differently. Where is the “Consider it all joy brethren when you encounter various trials?” Where are the Scriptures? Where are the passages that remind us of praying for our enemies? Where is the hang in there, and do what is right, thoughts? Where is the blessed are you when you are persecuted principles? Telling someone what you would do, may be sprinkled with man’s interests and not God’s.
God never promised every day to be sunny. God never tells us to run from trouble. God never said that there is no benefit to suffering. Man’s interests takes him to happiness, sunshine and what is easy. God’s interests takes us to what is right, holy and honoring Him. If Peter had his way, Jesus would have never gone to the cross. Good for Jesus, terrible for us. We must wonder, if we have our way, is it good for us, but terrible for the church? Terrible for the kingdom? Terrible for our influence? Terrible for God?
Some of these thoughts must filter down to a family leaving a congregation. New job. New city. Great upside potential with a company. On paper it looks great. But what about spiritually. Could it be that the congregation you leave had you in the radar to be an elder? Could it be that you were very helpful in your teaching and helping them? What’s the spiritual climate if you move? Will you just blend in and not be as active as before? Moving to a place with no shepherds and no shepherds even in the future? Now, we must consider, God’s interests or man’s interests? Good for the career may not always be good for the kingdom. Good for the career may not always be good for the family. Good for the career may not always be good spiritually.
Man’s interests or God’s interests—that has always been the challenge. What looks good to us may not be what is really good according to God. What sounds like encouragement may actually be discouraging. What we feel like is great advice, may be pitiful. It is easy to become Satan’s puppet.
We must put God’s interests before our own. We must put God’s interests at the top of the page. What would God have me to do is better to ask than, “What do you want to do?”