“Get behind me, Satan!”

What we heard from Pastor Douthwaite on Sunday, preaching on Matthew 16:21-28:

“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.”

Ouch. Poor Peter. He meant well. He really did. He loved his Lord. He had come a long way since that first day by the Sea of Galilee. And yet, with this word of Jesus, he seems back on square one. No, actually, it’s worse than that. For while before he might not have known Jesus from Adam, at least he wasn’t working against the Lord – he was minding his own business. But now, not only does Jesus call him Satan, an enemy of God, he then says you, Peter, are getting in my way! You are a hindrance to me. You’re not thinking right. Your mind is not on the things of God but on the things of man. . . .

Now, what did he say that caused such a violent reaction from Jesus? He said: “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” in response to Jesus’ statement 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. Peter was thinking: Jesus, as I just said, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are the Son of the God who brought His people out of Egypt, who parted the Red Sea for them, who kept them through the wilderness, fed them with manna, gave them water to drink from a rock, and who is mightier than all the armies of the world. You are the Son of the God who created all things and keeps the sun and moon and stars and earth in their courses. You are the Son of the God who feeds all living things, like you fed the over 5,000 in the wilderness not too long ago. There is no one greater than you and your Father in heaven. He won’t let this happen to you. He will protect you. He will stop those who oppose you and seek your life. . . .

Peter is trying to tell Jesus how to do His job; how to be the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Which is what we do, too. We confess with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And maybe even one better than Peter, we know the story of the cross, of His death and resurrection, and forgiveness and all of that. We got that. . . . Yet when we find out what that means for our life, how often do we think as Peter thought? When pain and suffering come into your life. No, Lord. When faithfulness to God’s Word means giving up what you want and think you need. No, Lord. When we’re told, as we heard from St. Paul today, to bless those who persecute you . . . to be patient in tribulation . . . to feed and give drink to your enemy. No, Lord. When earthquakes and hurricanes threaten. No, Lord. When being a Christian means bearing the cross. No, Lord. I’d really rather not, Lord. Some other time, Lord. Somebody else, Lord. No, Lord, I’m your child. Shouldn’t I get good things, Lord? Long life, Lord? Blessings and not sadness, Lord? No, Lord. No. . . .

The cross is how Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, still today, is for you. For the purpose of His cross, and the crosses that you bear, are not just His death and resurrection, but your death and resurrection with Him. You’re going to one day die because you’re a sinner. You cannot get around that. But to die with Christis quite a different thing. It means to die a death that ends in resurrection and life. And it is a death and resurrection that is already taking place in you, as you die and rise with Christ in baptism, as you die and rise with Christ in repentance. As you die to your old way of life, your old way of thinking, your Old Man’s “No, Lord,” and rise to live a new life, a “yes, Lord” life, a right-side-up-in-an-upside-down-world life.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Pentecost 11 Sermon.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Excellent sermon!

    We too, are exposed as wanting to tell God how to be God. The Lord rebukes us, but then makes breakfast for us.

    What an awesome God we have!

    Thanks for sharing this strong Word.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Excellent sermon!

    We too, are exposed as wanting to tell God how to be God. The Lord rebukes us, but then makes breakfast for us.

    What an awesome God we have!

    Thanks for sharing this strong Word.

  • kenneth

    A srong word indeed! Our suffering is insufferable when times are hard with pain and endless frustration. Failed and miserable though we are at times, time becomes a vehicle for repentance as our need increases for rescue and relief. It is then that dying and rising with Him becomes a pain we must take even though we resist with “groan that words cannot express”. When pain, mental or physical, take an insufferable toll, repentance and trust in the resurrection promise has a beautiful music to it that starts real slow and builds to a crecendo, the gift of faith. Dying and rising, indeed!

  • kenneth

    A srong word indeed! Our suffering is insufferable when times are hard with pain and endless frustration. Failed and miserable though we are at times, time becomes a vehicle for repentance as our need increases for rescue and relief. It is then that dying and rising with Him becomes a pain we must take even though we resist with “groan that words cannot express”. When pain, mental or physical, take an insufferable toll, repentance and trust in the resurrection promise has a beautiful music to it that starts real slow and builds to a crecendo, the gift of faith. Dying and rising, indeed!

  • Katie

    The Law hits hard here. Right when I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, Peter really got caught up in what he was saying, and wow, how hard it would have been to hear Jesus say this to me’ Pastor quickly reminds again, “YOU do this too and Jesus DOES say this to YOU too.” Too true! Ouch…

    How SWEET, sweet, sweet the Gospel is after Law like that. Praise be to the God who freely saves us!

    Thank you so much for your Pastor’s sermon excerpts, Dr Veith!

  • Katie

    The Law hits hard here. Right when I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, Peter really got caught up in what he was saying, and wow, how hard it would have been to hear Jesus say this to me’ Pastor quickly reminds again, “YOU do this too and Jesus DOES say this to YOU too.” Too true! Ouch…

    How SWEET, sweet, sweet the Gospel is after Law like that. Praise be to the God who freely saves us!

    Thank you so much for your Pastor’s sermon excerpts, Dr Veith!

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