Jesus famously rebuked Simon Peter by saying, “Get behind me, Satan!”
What did He mean by this statement?
Matthew’s gospel records Simon Peter pledging that he would never let Jesus be taken by the authorities and killed (Matthew 16:21-28). Jesus immediately rebuked Peter with this statement and saying that Peter was “a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
It seems from the context that Simon has good intentions that could be expressed by almost anyone. After all, which of us would want to stand by and let cruel and evil people take Jesus to torture and kill? Simon’s intentions and words are not evil. We would judge them to be good in any other circumstance.
But Simon’s words were a hindrance to the purpose of Jesus.
Peter did not understand the meaning of the Kingdom of God and the nature of discipleship. This would seem to be why Jesus immediately told the disciples about the nature of the kingdom. This kingdom is different from any other. This kingdom is about dying to self and living for God. It could be summarized by Paul’s statement: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus was not calling Simon Satan, but He was equating Simon’s attitude with that of Satan.
It’s easy to add a worldly perspective to the kingdom of God. That happens all the time in churches. We follow the book of opinions instead of the Word of God. While the opinions of many may be logical, they are not necessarily pleasing to God.
How many times has a church made a decision because of a logical suggestion made by an influential person? How many times have we followed “Unprayed over” ideas in our congregational meetings?
Jesus made clear to Simon that the kingdom is of God not of man. It, therefore, must follow Godly principles and set Godly goals. We can’t run our churches as the world runs its organizations. We must be servants, and we must seek God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Anything less is to take the side of Satan instead of the side of God.