At Preston Hollow PC, this Lent, we are studying together some of the tough sayings of Jesus. We began with the saying "Get Behind Me Satan". This blog includes my thoughts on this passage as seen in Matthew's gospel. This statement was addressed from Jesus to Peter and the disciples immediately after the first passion prediction. I found particular insight and value in these challenging words on two fronts. I struggle with how I envision Satan, and how can Peter go so quickly from being the rock of the church, the very foundation, to a stumbling block in the way of Jesus?
I personally don't believe in a Satan that is personified. I can't because that would place a secondary god-like figure in opposition to God. To me the entity of Satan is those who stand in Jesus' way. It takes the Greek satana interpreted as adversary. But perhaps this is where the text gets 'tough' for me. Are we all in the role of satana alongside Peter? I tend to think maybe, or even likely, we are. When we are the best intentioned we use the scripture to justify conclusions we have already reached in our lives. When we think we have it all figured out, we stand the most between the least of these and the Word.
But if Satan is perceived as evil embodied, isn't this too strong a description for us or for Peter when we are in the way? I think I am in the way far too often and cringe to think that I am satanic rather than a true disciple of Christ. So I turn to Peter.
How often are we off charging down a path we have determined and not following Christ and what Jesus would have us do in the world today? How often is my way easier or less embarrassing? I truly think that Peter spoke out of care for Jesus. But maybe he also spoke out of fear - what do you mean you have to suffer? I chose to follow you; this isn't where I thought the messiah would lead me!
Our challenge is to follow Jesus and not put ourselves out front. How can I work in this Lenten season to step aside from the driver seat long enough to see who I am following? How can we follow Jesus more authentically without our own agendas?
God is capable of things beyond our wildest imaginings - even working in spite of us, in spite of all our good intentions and things we have 'figured out'. Our God is an amazing God - one who doesn't excuse us but will continue to work alongside us and will continue to rebuke and challenge us when we sell Christianity short or try to make it about us. As we journey in Lent we must remember who it is we follow. Amen.