The topic for our reflection this morning is ‘Get behind me, Satan’. ‘Get behind me, Satan’, is one of the popular statements in the Bible. I have on a couple of occasions heard people jokingly make this statement to friends who may be ‘tempting’ them to do something they don’t want to do. Today, we are going to see what Jesus meant by that statement he made and what lessons we can learn from it.
After Peter had by divine inspiration answered correctly Jesus’ question about who they (the disciples) believed He was, Jesus began to tell the disciples about his impending arrest and death. Hearing this, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him for saying He was going to die, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee’, he said. But Jesus turned around and rebuked Peter sternly, saying to him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men’. He then went on to teach them what following Him was all about.
Elements of the text
Some four important things emerge as we take a close at this text, reveals to us:
1. Who/what Satan is (Mt. 16:23)
In the context of this pericope Satan is:
a. that which stands against the purpose of God in our lives.
b. that which serves as a stumbling block to or tries to derail us from God’s purpose;
c. that which savourest not the things of God, but those that be of men.
2. God’s path or purpose for us may be unpleasant and contrary to human wishes and expectation
a. ‘Human’ here could be us or others (enemies or loved ones, as in this text). That is to say…
b. It was God’s purpose that Christ should die to save humanity but that didn’t sit well with Peter, Christ’s close associate and loved one.
3. Following Jesus requires a decision to always place God’s purpose first
a. It requires us to put our own (self) interest aside, take up God’s purpose for our lives, and follow Jesus’ word and example.
b. It is in losing our lives (our own self-interest) to Christ that we find our God-ordained purpose (our lives as God meant it to be) in Him. Holding on to our lives (our own self-interest) will make us lose our God-ordained purpose (our lives as God meant it to be).
4. The value of a soul outweighs the value of the whole world
a. Following our own purpose to the detriment of God’s purpose for our lives is a big loss regardless of whatever gains we may make
b. At the end God will reward each one of us according to our works, whether or not we placed His purpose first.
Lessons for Us
1. God has two purposes/callings for each of us: Mk 3:14
a. the call to Christian living as we see in Rm 12:9-21
b. the call to rescue others (Ministry) as we see in Ex 3:1-15. It may or may not be monumental as Moses’ nonetheless He has called all of us to bring the lost to Him.
2. We must, like Jesus, refuse to be derailed by ‘any Satan’
a. We must know and be certain (convinced) about God’s purpose for our lives. Jesus was convinced about God’s purpose for His life.
b. We must know that ‘our Satan’ will most likely not be people we consider enemies. ‘Our Satan’ maybe our own purposes, plans, wishes, expectations or desires. It may also be people who mean well for us. In fact, it may even be a person of whom we can attest that he/she has, in the (recent) past, been used by God to confirm a thing or two or has spoken by divine inspiration to us, just as Peter had. (Moses’ Satan was perhaps his personality: he said, ‘who am I that I should go to Pharoah? And the fear that he will not be believed…)
c. We can only tell these ‘Satans’ (who actually serve as agents of Satan in our lives) to get behind us if we have truly denied and lost ourselves to Christ. In other words, if we have put our own (self) interests aside, and take up God’s purpose for our lives.
May the Lord Himself who has called us into Christian living and ministry enable us by His Spirit to give ourselves wholly unto His purpose as He did to the Father’s purpose while on earth. Amen!