That is not What I Expected !
A Different Direction
Peter had wholeheartedly responded to the truth about the Christ. The truth about the cross was something else. Peter could not accept that. The man who triumphed gloriously when faced with the deity of Christ, fell flat on his face when faced with the death of Christ. Godhead was possible to understand; Golgotha was impossible.
I The Suffering of Christ
II The Statement of Satan
(a) The Significant Timing of This Revelation (16:21a)
Peter’s great confession along with the Lord’s revelation concerning the church is one of the major watersheds of the Gospel of Matthew. “From that time forth,” the Lord spoke more and more about the cross and gave further revelation concerning the church. The disciples had scaled the heights; now they must scan the depths. From now on they must prepare themselves for His final rejection at the hands of the authorities and for His death, which was as certain as the sunset. Matthew said that the Lord “began” to talk about these things. He would go on talking about them in the days ahead, adding more details.
(b) The Startling Truth of This Revelation (16:21b–d)
He began by concentrating on two aspects of the revelation, one full of hate and the other full of hope. He indicated that the rulers would conspire against Him and kill Him, but they would not have the last word, for He would rise from the dead.
The disciples hardly heard the hopeful part. The part that shook them to the core of their being was this: “He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (italics added). Perhaps they caught the cadence of the ands. And! And! And! It was a deliberate drumbeat marking out each step in the onward march of the Son of God. But they missed the last and, which was just as deliberate, just as decisive: “and be raised again the third day.”
Note the word “must” in 16:21. It is stated once, but implied throughout. We could state the thought this way: “The One you have just confessed as Son of God must go to Jerusalem and must suffer many things and must be killed and must be raised again.” The point of danger was Jerusalem, but Jesus could not stay away from Jerusalem because that “must” came thundering out of eternity. Christ’s death was decided before the foundation of the world, before the beginning of time. He had come into the world to die.
Events must take their course. Men would kill Him; God would resurrect Him. The cross would become God’s instrument for providing salvation to men. The “must” came out of the past and blazed the way into the future ages of eternity. The “must” of the resurrection was an integral part of the divine plan.
Peter was indignant at the thought of his Master’s enduring such treatment. Catching hold of Him as if to block His path, he protested, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
No doubt all the disciples were stunned by this revelation. Peter was the first to recover. Matthew said, “Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.” The words translated “took him” mean “took Him aside.” Peter intended to give the Lord a little pep talk. Evidently the Lord did not allow him to finish, for Matthew said that Peter “began” to remonstrate with Him. The word translated “rebuke” here literally means “to chide.” Peter was angry with Him and said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”
(b) How the Lord Rebuked Peter (16:23)
The Lord, it seems, turned His back on Peter, faced the other disciples, and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence [skandalon, ‘a stone of stumbling’] unto me: for thou savourest not [you do not regard] the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Behind Peter lurked Satan. The voice was the voice of Peter; the words were the words of Satan. A few moments before, Jesus in effect had said to Simon, “You are Peter; you are a stone.” Now He was saying, “You are a skandalon, a stone of stumbling
Anything or anyone who hindered Him from this purpose was out of tune with God’s will. So He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” In calling Peter Satan, Jesus did not imply that the apostle was demon-possessed or Satan controlled. He simply meant that Peter’s actions and words were what could be expected of Satan (whose name means adversary). By protesting against Calvary, Peter became a hindrance to the Savior.
III Significance of the Choice
This paradox is often worked out in the history of the church. The cross was not only for Him; it is also for us.
The world looks on this principle, the logic of the cross, as folly. But as Jim Elliot, one of the five young men martyred by the Indians in Ecuador, wrote in his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” C. T. Studd, who gave up fame and fortune to take the gospel to pagan tribes, wrote:
Some wish to live within the sound
Of Church or Chapel bell,
I want to run a Rescue Shop
Within a yard of hell.
Doubtless Studd was considered a fool by his socialite contemporaries. The history of the church is full of the annals of such people. Some became heroes in their lifetimes or were made such by their deaths. Others unknown and unsung down here are counted over yonder as the aristocracy of Heaven.
Though Peter wanted Jesus to follow his plan, the Lord showed that discipleship involves a cost. Discipleship does not mean one enjoys glory immediately. A person who would follow Jesus must deny himself and all his ambitions. He must take up his cross and follow Jesus (cf. 10:38). In the Roman Empire a convicted criminal, when taken to be crucified, was forced to carry his own cross. This showed publicly that he was then under and submissive to the rule he had been opposing. Likewise Jesus’ disciples must demonstrate their submission to the One against whom they had rebelled. The path Jesus and His followers would travel would be a road of sorrow and suffering. But in so losing one’s life, one would truly find a better life.
To take up the cross means the willingness to endure shame, suffering, and perhaps martyrdom for His sake; to die to sin, self, and the world. To follow Him means to live as He lived with all that involves of humility, poverty, compassion, love, grace, and every other godly virtue.
16:25 The Lord anticipates two hindrances to discipleship. The first is the natural temptation to save oneself from discomfort, pain, loneliness, or loss. The other is to become wealthy. As to the first, Jesus warned that those who hug their lives for selfish purposes would never find fulfillment; those who recklessly abandon their lives to Him, not counting the cost, would find the reason for their existence.