“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said,
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh & blood has not revealed this to you,
but My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-17
“Get behind Me, Satan!” Matthew 16:23
In the refreshing, oasis-like location of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus commends Peter for his brief, yet brilliant answer. Imagine the delight that Peter must have enjoyed, not only in delivering a correct response, but the magnitude of Jesus approval towards him.
Yet within eight verses this same Peter hears from Jesus “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Wow, if there ever was a mountain-top to valley-low experience, Peter had experienced such. Jesus was stern, because though meaning well, Peter was reluctant, in fact refusing, to accept the quickly approaching reality and need, of both crucifixion and resurrection.
Peter would later write Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). As Christians, the Holy Spirit communicates through us some of the most glorious truths of Scripture. We are quite likely aware of our need to refrain from harsh words, words lacking grace, those of selfishness, etc. We also, as in Peter’s reluctance to accept the crucifixion & resurrection, must be careful to avoid spreading sincerely held poor theology and misunderstandings. Satan can be, and usually is, very subtle. In reality we can be fully convinced we are advancing God’s will when in fact we are actually opposing it.
There is good reason why James tells us to be swift to hear, slow to speak… Frequently, though hard to admit, we are wrong in our initial perceptions. We bring many sorts of presuppositions and biases to our own understanding. Consider Proverbs 3:5— Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
It requires tremendous humility to hold one’s mouth at times. This same Peter who was sternly rebuked, encourages each of us to be clothed with humility. He continues—God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:4-5).
David wisely wrote and prayed in Psalm 141:3—Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Without a doubt, great wisdom for us today and all of our days!