31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
Mark 8:31-38 CEB
Rev. Melissa Fain
It is possible to look at Jesus’ words, “Get behind me, Satan,” as separable. Jesus could have used this one sentence to tell Peter something huge. First, the “behind me” in Greek actually sounds like another phrase Jesus once told the Disciples, “Follow me.” He could have been telling Peter to remember where it all started. It started with dropping everything and choosing to follow Jesus. In the same breath, “Get, Satan” sounds like yet another biblical moment. It is similar to a wilderness time for Jesus, when the accuser tempted him. Peter was giving Jesus a tempting alternative, don’t die and don’t deal with the pain. Whether Peter meant to play the part or not, he was fitting into the Satan role perfectly.
The scandal is so subtle here. It is easy to focus on Peter’s gung-ho attitude. He was Jesus’ number one fan. Sometimes his zeal would get the better of him and the future foundation of the Christian faith would become a stumbling block. Those of us passionate about ministry know what it is like to let our zeal get the better of us. That’s a learning lesson. The scandal is Christ. Jesus Christ, while fully divine, was fully human. We sometimes forget the human side of the equation. He had to tell Peter to back off in the same way he told Satan. It appears he was tempted by Peter’s enticing words.
We need to remember, if Christ can be enticed by the wrong things, we most definitely can. We should watch out for the easy way out. Easy doesn't necessarily mean right.
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Oh compassionate God,
I am often drawn to the easy and beautiful paths. Easy and beautiful does not always equal right. Help me find the right paths, even when those paths might be more difficult.
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Melissa is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She has a BA in Music from Kennesaw State University and a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is currently the senior minister at Fig Tree Christian. Melissa is the mother of two wonderful children, and wife to a great and supportive husband. In her spare time she loves arts and crafts which includes making costumes from scratch, and knotted bracelets.