He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”Mark 8:27-33
How difficult it is as a human being to NOT think as human beings do. So much of our lives and our thoughts and our actions are wrapped in and around our flesh. Those guttural instincts for things that we know don’t always lead to the pathway of light but we can’t help from doing or saying anyway.
And how much more difficult is it to contend with our brothers and sisters, friends and family, loved ones and associates when they are only “thinking human” when it comes to things we are trying to share with them.
Have you ever tried imparting a bit of wisdom on a family member only to be rebuffed? Or how about sharing a vision with a friend only to see it quickly doused out with a bunch of reasons why it’s not possible? It hurts for a loved one not understand where we’re coming from, especially when we are only trying to help. “Get behind me, Satan” seems like a fair enough retort to such negativity at times. Or, in Ludacris terms, “Move b*tch, get out the way!”
But the line Jesus throws back at him is not about humanity or hurt feelings. It’s not a spicy line from a t-shirt or a so-called “reality” show. “Get behind me, Satan” is straight from the Spirit, protecting God’s will, renouncing Satan and any means he would use to try and tempt or get in the way of that will. I wonder if Jesus responded so fiercely because perhaps there was actually a bit of temptation for him in what Peter was saying. Perhaps there was a bit of Jesus’ humanity that seemed ready to falter under the weight of rebuke. Maybe his rebuke was not even for himself but for the other disciples who were traveling with them, lest their own faith be misled.
The key here is to take the next part of Jesus’ words to heart… we need to think – or at least try to think – as God does, not as human beings do. So what does that mean in real terms? It means keeping our mouths quiet sometimes when we want to be so quick to comeback with a know-it-all response. It means taking some time to pray over difficult situations instead of just saying we’re going to pray about them. It means recognizing our own weaknesses, our own failures, our own misunderstandings before we begin to weigh in on others. To “think as God does” is to think always first with love. It is to pray “Thy Will Be Done” and truly mean it. Love is not about what we want, but rather what the other needs.
Peter wanted Jesus to stay with them, to reign in a kingdom here on earth in a way that he understood. What Jesus needed to do was take things to another level that none of us could ever have imagined. To redeem the darkness born within us by sacrificing pure light.