A Study in Jesus’ relationship with the Apostle Peter
Matthew 16:13-28 / Mark 8:27-9:1 / Luke 9:18-27
Jesus and his disciples were traveling in the area of Caesarea Philippi when Jesus sought a place to pray. He sensed the time to prepare his disciples for adversity had come. When his disciples joined him, he said “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” Various names surfaced, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Next question, “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus called himself the Son of Man but Peter saw him as more than then a man. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The high priest is the only other person to use the term “living God” in the Gospels. Peter’s declaration affirmed the Jewish idea about the Messiah being a human son of King David anointed by a living God to be Israel’s king.
Jesus could trace his earthly lineage to King David, but he had already refused an offer to be Israel’s king resulting in followers falling by the wayside. Peter’s faith that Jesus would still be the king of Israel prompted Jesus to call Peter “blessed.” Jesus discerned that Peter’s understanding came from the living God in heaven not from “flesh and blood” on earth. If Peter had relied solely on “flesh and blood,” religious leaders would have persuaded him that Jesus did not qualify to be the Messiah.
With the blessing came gifts. Jesus promised to give Peter authority in heaven and the keys to his kingdom. Whatever Peter bound on earth would be bound in heaven. Whatever he loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. The corresponding action in heaven was essential. We wrestle with spiritual authorities in heaven not with flesh and blood authorities on earth. Jesus also assured Peter that he was part of a church that death would not prevail against. Conquering death wasn’t on Peter’s radar. He longed for a king to restore Israel’s glory days and believed Jesus was that king.
Much to Peter’s angst Jesus refused to drop the subject of death. He spoke openly that he would suffer at the hands of Jerusalem’s elders, chief priest and scribes and they would kill him. The freshly bestowed power and authority in the kingdom of heaven gave Peter the audacity to summon Jesus for a private conversation. He rebuked Jesus for saying he will suffer and die. After all, Peter had just declared Jesus to be the Messiah, anointed by the living God to be king of Israel. This talk of suffering and dying made Peter look bad.
What Peter did in private Jesus did publically. He turned his back to Peter and shocked everyone by rebuking Peter. “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.” Ouch! If Peter thought he looked bad before it could not compare to the humiliation he felt now.
What did Peter do that deserved a stern public rebuke? He only wanted to protect Jesus from harm! But what about the people who died in faith before Peter was born? Peter’s shortsightedness excluded multitudes. Peter rebuked Jesus because he loved him, but if you love Jesus you must also love his people. If Jesus failed to conquer death, the believers who lived and died in faith without receiving the things God promised will have lived in vain and God proved himself to be a liar.
Jesus turned the confrontation with Peter into a teaching opportunity that challenged Peter to search his soul. God’s desires trump our desires because he is the only one who acts in the best interest of everyone. Fighting to gain the things you want in this life including the “good things” is vain if those things are contrary to God’s eternal plan.
Is it worth losing your soul because you don’t want to do things God’s way?
Peter offended Jesus, but that did not quench Jesus’ love for Peter. Instead of rejecting him, Jesus corrected him. He rebuked Peter because he loved him and wanted him to keep his place in the church and his part in the eternal kingdom of God.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV
 Matthew 26:63
 Ephesian 6:12