The Holy Gospel according to Matthew, the 16th chapter.
Glory to you, O Lord.
21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." 23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27 "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Last week, Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter got the answer right. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” We gave Peter credit for that last week, because this week, he got it wrong.
In practically the next breath after Peter's confession, Jesus tells the disciples that he must suffer and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Stop and think about that! Jesus is the Messiah. He has just let his disciples know that. And then he says that he must die.
That might not seem crazy to us, because we know the rest of the story. We know about the cross, but we also know about the resurrection. We know about Good Friday, but we also know about Easter.
But it sounded crazy to Peter. He didn't know what to make of this crazy announcement by Jesus –– that he was the Messiah, but he must die. Was Jesus just having a bad day? Peter didn't know what was going on.
But that didn't mean that Peter kept quiet. One thing you could always depend on –– Peter always had an opinion, and he seldom kept his opinion to himself.
So Peter took Jesus aside, and with his voice kept low so the other disciples wouldn't hear, and he rebuked Jesus. But Jesus responded, "Get behind me, Satan!"
Teachers and children can sometimes get in these types of situations too. When we are children we think we know what we need. We certainly know what we want. It can seem to us that our teachers place completely unreasonable restrictions and demands on us.
But they do know things we don’t yet know or understand. Most of the time teachers are able to explain things to children, but sometimes the best answer is, “Because I said so.”
Peter was the disciple - the student, and Jesus was the Rabbi - the teacher. Peter thought he understood the situation completely when he confessed that Jesus was the Messiah.
Well, it turns out he knew the answer, but didn’t know what it meant. Jesus kept on teaching what it meant to be the Messiah, but what he said made no sense to Peter. Peter didn’t have the whole story. He was like a child who thought he understood, but really didn’t at all.
It is always fun to watch children the first week of preschool or day care. They are busy learning how everything works, and what the rules are. The day care at my congregation in Texas had specific rules they called “line manners.”
“Line manners” include the following rules:
“Line manners” will help us understand a key message in today’s gospel.
“Get behind me Satan” is the rabbi version of “Because I said so”. What happens here is that Jesus is reminding Peter of his “line manners”.
Jesus tells us to become his followers too. In the gift of Holy Baptism we are reborn as children of God and made members of the Church. In our baptismal liturgy we renounce Satan and the forces that defy God. We renounce the powers of the world that rebel against God.
We renounce the sin that draws us from God. We get behind Jesus and follow him. We turn our backs on the life we had as sinners and we find new life as followers of Christ. Through God’s good grace we are delivered from sin and death and raised to new life.
The Holy Spirit comes to us and empowers us to join in God’s mission for the life of the world. Jesus gives us new life, both now and for eternity. Amen.