Get Behind Me Satan

Get Behind Me Satan

Mark 8:31-38

Jesus has some harsh words for his disciple Peter in the text for this coming Sunday. Peter pulls Jesus aside and wants him to stop talking about how his mission involves dying on a cross. In reply Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” It is hard to think of a worse insult than calling someone Satan or the Devil. When we hear those names we think of the ultimate evil one. We think of some guy with pointy horns, dressed in red with a pitchfork. Why would Jesus equate one of his closest followers with such a horrible image?

While we have developed a certain image associated with Satan over the years, that picture does not really exist in the Bible. We do not hear of any guy in a red suit and horns in Scripture. As Pastor Emily Heath writes in her commentary on this story, the Hebrew equivalent of the word Jesus calls Peter is ha-satan, which doesn’t mean “devil” at all. It is not really a proper name as we often think of it. Rather, the word means, “the accuser” or “the adversary”. So Jesus is not saying that his disciple Peter is like evil incarnate. What he is saying is that Peter is being an adversary or an obstacle. He is standing in the way of Jesus and God’s plan. Jesus wants Peter to put his protests aside and not oppose him. He wants Peter to get behind him so he can do what he needs to do.
Many of us know what it is like to have adversary or an obstacle that might keep us from really being the disciples we are meant to be. It could be an actual person, but it could be anything that gets between us and answering the call to follow Jesus. An adversary could be doubt, fear, pride, addiction, hatred, anger, greed, and insecurity. These things and others can get in the way of us pursuing the mission of God in our lives.

What are the adversaries you might be facing? What obstacles are getting between you and following God’s calling in your life? How do we get behind Jesus’ mission as opposed to all the other things that pull us different directions?

– Pastor Erik