Times are difficult. Many are facing financial hardships. For those not experiencing financial hardships, there may be health problems. If not that, one may be facing relationship or emotional hurdles. Some are facing all of the above. Personally, I don’t know of a single living person who is not navigating some sort of roadblock, including myself.
When dealing with someone who is experiencing problems in his or her life we, as supportive friends and family, attempt to alleviate the situation. The first thing we do is offer encouraging words to show that we are sympathetic and empathetic to our loved one’s problem or problems. By instinct, we speak from the natural or as humans instead of spiritually. That was Peter’s misstep in Matthew 16:22.
While speaking to His disciples, Jesus informed them, for the first time, that he would suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. He told them he would be killed and raised back to life on the third day (Matthew 16:21). Peter, who no doubt loved Jesus, rebuked Him by stating this would never happen. We are then taught in Matthew 16:23, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ (NIV). When I first read this passage many years ago, I was taken aback. Why would Jesus respond so strongly to Peter whose response seemed to be stemmed from love and dedication?
Although Peter had the best intentions in mind, it was just that – his intentions. He was thinking as a man and did not want Jesus to endure the suffering and death that was to come. However, if Jesus had not died for our sins, we (mankind) would have died in our sins. Jesus had to endure unconscionable hardships in order for us to achieve the ultimate reward – eternity with our Father. Jesus rebuked Peter’s attitude which, essentially, removed God from the picture.
No one wants to experience discomfort and we feel a special pain when witnessing a loved one go through trials and tribulations. In our efforts to comfort our loved ones and ourselves, let’s not take God out of the picture. Always think from a spiritual standpoint instead of instinct. The discomfort we face now may be a station in God’s journey that leads us to something far greater.
Note: This devotional was inspired by the February 24 2011 Our Daily Bread selection.