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Get Behind Me Satan

Before the Son of God came into the world, the task He had to complete was written in stone.  God's plan and purpose in Christ is eternal, and it was determined before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1Pet. 1:20).  More than 300 prophecies of the Christ were written in the Old Testament Scriptures, and many of those explained the purpose of His coming and foretold of His death (see Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 for examples).  When the fullness of time came, God sent His Son into the world to be the Redeemer of sinners (Gal. 4:4-5). This would be accomplished only by Christ's tortuous death on the cross.

This placed a tremendous burden on the man Jesus of Nazareth.  Although He was still God and all the fullness of Deity dwelt in Him (Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 2:9), He also assumed all of the weaknesses of being a man.  He was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).  As a man, He had to choose to carry out the will of God that was heavy upon Him.  He wished to escape the tremendous suffering that was ordained for Him, and He prayed to His Father, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). He had the opportunity to escape, for when His disciples attempted to fight for Him, He said commanded them to stop, saying, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). Even so, He submissively chose to bear the burden of man's sins.  In John 10:17-18, Jesus said,

17"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  18No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This commandment I received from My Father."

Thus, Philippians 2:8 says of Jesus, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  By this, Jesus was perfected or made complete, for "although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8).

With His task clearly before Him and the burden squarely on His shoulders, He did not need any additional burdens from His friends.  Nevertheless, His own disciples created stumbling blocks for Him on the path to His goal.  When He began to "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 be raised up on the third day" (Matt. 16:21), they resisted Him and rejected His words.  Peter even took the Lord aside and rebuked Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to You" (Matt. 16:22). Jesus then returned a rebuke of His own, saying 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" (Matt. 16:23).

Any good intentions aside, Peter had become an unwitting agent of Satan by attempting to stop the Lord's pursuit of His Father's will.  The Lord addressed Peter as "Satan" because Peter's interests were opposed to God's interests.  Ironically, God's interests were in man's best interest, for God was working to bring about salvation for man.  Nevertheless, Peter resisted God's will and thus aligned Himself with the working of Satan.  The name Satan means "adversary" or "one who opposes another."  Although Peter thought he was being a friend to Jesus, He was opposing the very purpose for which Jesus had come.  His opposition was an additional, unnecessary burden for Jesus, for Peter had become another form of temptation that was pulling Jesus away from His goal and His Father's will.

May we never become as Satan to one another.  As it was in the case of Christ, God's will for each of us is also written in stone, for it is recorded in the Scriptures.  The gospel of Christ tells us what God has done to make our salvation possible, and it tells us what we must do to be saved.  If we ever oppose one another in the pursuit of God's will, then we have become like Satan to one another.  Even when we have good intentions, we become stumbling blocks if we oppose the will of God.  Sometimes achieving the will of God is very difficult just as it was for Jesus in the bearing of His cross.  Rather than telling one another that we don't have to do the hard things, it is better to give encouragement and support throughout the difficulties.  Ultimately, to avoid becoming as Satan, we must set our minds completely on God's interests and not on man's.  In this way, we will never have to be told, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Stacey E. Durham