Blessed… Get Behind Me!

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts” (Matthew 16:21-23, Common English Bible).

It was just a few days ago that we saw Jesus seemingly call a woman a dog (Matthew 15:21-28). It might seem, when we read the lesson for today as a surface reading, that Jesus is at it again, this time calling Peter, Satan. Yeah, the way I see it, if Jesus is actually name calling, Peter is getting a lousy shake compared to the Canaanite woman.

More than 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to see “The Promise,” a Passion Play type performance in Glen Rose Texas. The play tells the story of Jesus’ life. I loved the way they portrayed this story. Jesus was looking in Peter’s direction, but seeing past him and speaking to another character in the play, Satan.

I love that idea. As I have thought on this passage, I can’t help but think that Jesus was not calling Peter Satan. That being said, whenever there are things that fall short of the glory of God, there is a pretty good chance that evil is hanging out in the neighborhood. And, to carry it a step further, if we are who is performing the evil, there is a real good chance that evil is hanging out in us.

I don’t think Jesus was calling Peter evil, he was calling Peter’s idea evil. Peter was trying to keep Jesus from fulfilling His destiny because it wasn’t the thing Peter wanted to happen to his friend.

Isn’t it interesting that in the passage we just finished yesterday Peter knows Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but Peter doesn’t realize what being Messiah actually means.

When we read this passage, we often give Peter a hard time. We might even say, indigently, Peter is evil because of what he says. He, after all, is trying to prevent Jesus from living out his call. If we are honest with ourselves, we would probably be right there with Peter, we wouldn’t want Jesus to die such a horrible death either. After all, we would never want something so horrible to happen to someone we love.

Sometimes I think I might hear Jesus say, at least in my direction, “Get behind me Satan!” It’s something I don’t think is aimed at me. Instead, I think it just might be the evil that all too often is inside me.

How do you hear Jesus saying, “Get behind me Satan?”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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