31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Mk. 8:31-33
Let us take a closer look at verse 32: “And he spake that saying openly.” We need to be careful with Bible language. The keyword in this particular scripture is “openly”. If Jesus spoke this saying openly, then it means He wanted it known. He wanted whatever He was saying to be abundantly clear to each one of His disciples, clearer than anything He had ever said to them.
And, pray, what message was Jesus getting across? It was that He would need to suffer and die in order to bring life into the world. That was the single most important message that Jesus had and He wanted His disciples to hear it and completely understand it.
I can hardly suppose that Jesus wanted His disciples to know this fact but not us. If this message is not for us, we might as well go throw the Bible into the lake. But if Jesus wanted His disciples to get this message, I believe more so we. In fact, this is the single most important message that we as born-again believers will ever need to understand.
Sometimes, too, I believe such scriptures give us a glimpse into the character of Satan. Jesus mentioned Satan in His reference to “the things that be of men”. In this scripture Jesus lumped Satan, Peter and “men” together! If you want to get to know the devil, just look at men. And how are “men”? We are selfish, of course. Satan is one big, selfish personality.
This single fact – Christ’s suffering, rejection and death, and His subsequent resurrection – was the single most powerful occurrence that would happen in the history of the world. The power that this act would unleash was so powerful that it shook the foundations of the spirit world.
Through facing the cross, Jesus would bring abundant life into the world – and death to every work of the devil.
Jesus’ declaration was also the worst piece of news that old man Satan would ever hear. The minute he heard Jesus make that declaration, Satan engaged his armies and sought for a way to prevent Jesus from taking that road.
Y’know, most people read such a scripture and they think Satan was joking. Satan never, ever joked. He never plays games. He is dead serious about his business. And here he knew exactly what would happen if Jesus took that road of the cross. It would be disaster for him. He therefore used Peter to try to dissuade Jesus not to take that road.
But Jesus saw through Satan’s malevolence, and He rebuked Peter: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Notice that Peter was in league with Satan and with “men”. When we are not willing to take the road of suffering, rejection and death, no matter we are born-again, we are still carnal men, and subject to the devil. That might sound strange, but it is true. It is true because Jesus said so right there.
But this is also something that we can examine and find in our own lives. When we fail to take up our cross and follow Christ, we are playing into the devil’s character of self-preservation.
But when we take the road of self-denial, resurrection life will flow out of us. We will bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We will become pillars in the Kingdom of God. We will bring life into the church, and we will be dependable in the Spirit. We will support others in the Spirit. This was exactly what Jesus did. He took the road of the cross, and we see the end of it all was the resurrection life, the very life of which we have become partakers.
But when God charts that course for us, we better prepare ourselves because Satan, who is the god of this world, will throw his entire armies against us in his efforts to prevent us from carrying Christ’s death sentence in us. He will batter us in many different ways. Chief amongst his weapons are brethren who are not walking in the Spirit. Just look at the guys who would crucify Jesus: “the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes”. These were the people who represented and claimed to know God! You don’t see “Gentiles” there. That was what happened between Joseph and his brethren.
Satan will also use circumstances in his efforts to derail us from taking the road of self-denial. He wants us to complain, grumble, and do all those negative things, “the things that be of men”.
But because we have the mind that Jesus had (and not the one Peter had), we will stand and face that cross resolutely.
A Christian who loves this world can hardly complete this heavenly journey. That is why all other gospels should be silenced within the church and the church should be made to hear only one gospel: Christ and Him crucified. Wherever the Apostle Paul went (this is clear in the scriptures) he made sure to teach only one thing – only one: “Lose your life for Christ and for the gospel, so that the resurrection life might be found in you.” There can only be two roads in the spirit world: the spiritual road, and the carnal road. The spiritual road brings life, and it is the one that we need to choose.