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. 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.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” – Matthew 16:21-28
Peter was among the first of Jesus’ apostles, and one of the inner circle of three. He often said what others were thinking, and expressed thoughts and ideas that sometimes would better be left unexpressed. We might say of him, he took his foot out of his mouth only to change feet!
Immediately before this exchange, however, Peter gets it right. When Jesus asks who do the disciples think he is, Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Right on the mark. A beautiful expression of faith. So beautiful and right on that Jesus tells them that this conviction and confession is not by the power of human reason or strength. This is a revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, however, Peter too quickly abandons the influence and leading of the Holy Spirit and begins to lecture Jesus about what he must and would do: No not you, Lord! This can’t be what’s in your future.
How wrong he was. Jesus has said it: “It is necessary…” The Greek word is δεῖ (dei). And that little three-letter-word is powerful and absolute. It. Is. necessary. If we are to be redeemed, Jesus will have to face unjust treatment. He will die. Although Peter thinks he knows better, he does not. This is God’s plan. It will be.
My heart is with Peter. I don’t want to imagine being with Jesus and hearing him speak about such doom and suffering, torture and death. But my desire does not serve the greater cause of God’s redemption and our salvation. Let’s stay with Peter as he gets it right about who Jesus is, and let Jesus do the work he came to do. In the end we will rejoice with Peter and all sinners when Jesus rebukes us and calls us back to himself, forgiving us and calls us to a higher purpose than our own comfort or sensibilities might suggest.