There is a popular motto among preachers that they attempt to follow the pattern of Jesus in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
We see that Jesus was both tender and tough. He comforted those who were burdened and broken from the emotional groans and grief that result from a Genesis 3 fallen world. Jesus spoke softly to those whose lives were wrecked by sin but wanted a helping hand. However, Jesus seemed to afflict those who were self-absorbed and overly focused on the sins of others with little concern to deal with their own blind-spots.
We need Jesus’ tenderness and toughness. We need His compassion for when we have fallen, but we also need His toughness to redirect flawed thinking and misguided actions. In today’s passage, we look at another hard saying of Jesus…
EXAMINE Get behind me Satan Matthew 16:13-27 (ESV)
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from 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, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
The hard saying is from Jesus to Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (16:23). How can we discern if we are a hindrance or help to Jesus? How can we know if we are truly one of His disciples?
We know we are following Jesus if we declare Him as the only Son of God and Savior of the world (16:13-18).
Verse 13 notes they were entering the district of Caesarea Philippi. This region was a religious center with emperor worship common in this culture. Caesar Augustus took over the region and gave it to his son Philip and thus the namesake. A temple was built for Caesar, who called himself “son of God, king of kings, and lord,” these words inscribed in his temple. Caesarea Philippi, was a center for pagan worship, yet it was here that Jesus revealed His identity in profound settings: Peter’s confession (Mt 16:13-19) and the transfiguration of Jesus’ human body to divine glory (Mt 17:1-8).
Further, at this time in Jesus’ ministry, there is a significant crowd around Him. The miracle feedings of 5K (Mt 14:13-21) & 4K (Mt 15:32-39) were likely 2-4x amounts of people; so likely 20K drawing interest of Jesus. Not to mention Jesus’ healing ministry attracting multitudes, and His teaching ministry stirring up attention and intrigue.
So, just when the crowds are nearing peak status, Jesus deepens the commitment for being His disciple. He does so by asking a question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” This question was about public perception.
Just when the crowds are nearing peak status, Jesus deepens the commitment for being His disciple.Tweet
Some people said Jesus was John the Baptizer (back from the dead), or other prophetic ghostly returns: Elijah (Malachi 4:5), Jeremiah or another prophet (cf. Deut 18:15-18). Then Jesus changes the question from general perception to personal faith – “But who do you say that I am?”
Each of us must answer this question.
- You can suggest what other people say, but Jesus wants you to respond. YOU – You must make a decision. God doesn’t have grandchildren or surrogate offspring. You cannot live off the fumes of another’s faith but must have your own fuel that comes from receiving the grace of Jesus.
- You can suggest Jesus never existed. But this goes against even secular scholars and historical record of Jesus’ existence, as well as His death by Roman execution. So, these people are simply not intellectually honest.
- You can suggest Jesus was merely a good man or wise peacemaking teacher. But a good man would not have led others to believe he was God, if he really wasn’t. Nor would he be able to make the sorts of promises and fulfill the sorts of prophecies about his birth, life, death, and resurrection. You can suggest the New Testament was corrupted and never really expressed such prophecies about Jesus. However, you would be dismissing several hundred of early 1st – 3rd Century manuscript evidence that suggest otherwise. The secular comparison for documents is the single or mere double digits vs high triple and four-digit manuscripts and copies of the NT.
- You can suggest Jesus was one of multiple other divine prophets, like Muhammed, or other supposed religious founders. However, none compare to Jesus – again, who fulfilled prophecies and none more importantly than the resurrection. Every other religion’s leader is dead and buried. However, Jesus’ tomb is empty because He is alive. And when it comes to listening to religious leaders and worshiping deity, I’m choosing the one who has power over humanity’s threatening enemy – death! Jesus is the great grave-robber. Jesus transforms the inevitability of death into the invincibility of resurrection life.
- You can give generic assent to Jesus. Most of us know the English monarchy, but this has no influence on our daily life or provides any meaningful impact for our passions and priorities. Additionally, most sport fans know the team GM name, but it does little to their excitement for the team. In a corporate job (different for small business), knowing the organization president or knowing the principal’s name in your child’s school does not have significant motivation for your attitude and behavior. The reason these, and other scenarios, offer low control or nominal sway to your day is because you typically do not see, talk, or relate to these on a regular basis. So, giving generic assent to Jesus answers Jesus question about His identity as being our lukewarm leader and not our all-encompassing Lord.
*Who is Jesus to you?
In this passage, Peter answers Jesus’ question and speaks for the other disciples saying, Jesus is 16 “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ (χριστος) is actually a title meaning “anointed one.” In other words, Peter was declaring Jesus to be Israel’s hero and God’s present power on earth. Jesus is the living God rather than the dead gods of mythology. And note, Jesus didn’t correct Peter but commended him for correctly noting the identity of Christ amid imprecise and polytheistic views of God.
- Banks steal
- Provides temporary happiness but doesn’t buy lasting peace, joy, or love.
- Endless cycles of promises made but principles broken.
- Doctors, Healthy Habits, and Medicine
- Regular screenings, good eating & exercise habits, or vaccines can prolong life but not prevent death.
- If you’re into supplements, nutrition, exercise programs – great. But if you use the word “holistic” and don’t include spiritual health, you have created an idol (pet peeve).
- Computers, social media, electric vehicles, Artificial Intelligence can be helpful to production or output and effectiveness. Yet, technology always has a human cost: economically, physically, psychologically, and physiological.
Why do Christians believe only one way to salvation (exclusivity vs inclusivism)?
- Start with identity not implications. We need to first study the life of Jesus and understand His identity before it makes sense to meaningfully apply His teachings. Exclusivity of salvation is a direct result of Jesus’ identity and purpose. God did not send Jesus to put on flesh and live perfectly and then die maliciously and sacrificially to be one among many paths.
- See that Christians are not the only one’s being exclusive. Every other religion exclude someone – whether it would be “unbelievers” of their view, or Christians in specific who have a different view. It’s remarkable irony to proclaim to be tolerant, but intolerant of Christians.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
After Jesus commended Peter for his confession of Jesus as the Christ, He declared God’s ultimate purpose on earth. Jesus tells Peter (πετρος = small & single rock, pebble) that upon a greater rock (πέτρα = substantial & solid rock, mountain) He will build His church.
Much ink has been used to understand Jesus’ words in this passage, and in fact entire religions with millions of people have been created based on their understanding. Essentially the question is what is the “rock” (petra)
- Is Jesus installing Peter as the leader of His church?
- Peter refers to himself as a “fellow elder” (1Peter 5:1); a “servant” (2Peter 1:1)
- Paul rebukes Peter for racial discrimination of Gentiles (Gal 2:11-14)
- Is Jesus commending Peter’s confession for His church?
Acts 2:37-42 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
1Peter 2:4-8 (cf. Acts 4:11) “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”
Ephesians 2:19-20 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone”
Scripture as a whole supports that Jesus was referring to Peter’s confession rather than his position in the church. The church is built on the apostle’s teaching of Jesus as the Christ and cornerstone; the solid rock.
Further, Jesus is not just the cornerstone but the architect of the church saying, “I will build my church.” Jesus’ primary purpose in the world today is not platforms or programs, even good organizations, but it’s building God’s church.
The church (εκκλησια) is people, with diverse backgrounds and personalities but united under a common cause. In the case of a Christian Church, the common cause is serving God and spreading the gospel.
Since Jesus elevates the church to the highest cause, so should we. Charles Spurgeon preached, “Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world!
*So, one of the ways we know that you affirm Christ as the only Son of God and Savior of the world is that you have aligned with and support a local church.
We know we are following Jesus if we are door openers and not wall builders for God’s kingdom (16:19-27).
In v. 20, Jesus charges the disciples to tell no one that He is the Christ. Yet, the previous v.19, Jesus tells Peter he has the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Essentially, Jesus doesn’t want crowd fans who are behind Him for health and wealth. Jesus wants cross-bearing disciples – followers who know that life is filled with struggles and suffering but they endure in faith through thick and thin.
We need to know that faith is free, and it costs us nothing because it cost Jesus everything. Yet, following Jesus will eventually cost us something.
Primarily what it costs to follow Jesus the responsibility of having keys. Keys are meant for opening things. As followers of Jesus, our primary purpose is to open doors for others to enter the kingdom. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people” (Mt 4:19).
Faith is free, and it costs us nothing because it cost Jesus everything. Yet, following Jesus will eventually cost something. Primarily the cost to follow Jesus is responsibility of having keys to the kingdom to open the door of salvation for unbelievers with the gospel.Tweet
Jesus explained the key to the kingdom is that He must suffer and be killed, then be raised on the third day. However, Peter refuses cross-bearing and responsibility of the keys. 22 “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
Peter had a different plan and program for the church.
- Let’s not talk about people’s sins and how that results in eternal death.
- Let’s not talk about cross-bearing and struggles. Hide your weaknesses. Stuff your difficulties and silence talk about your hardships. No vulnerability allowed.
- Let’s talk about something besides cross-bearing and disciplemaking. Let’s have another Bible study. Let’s have a party, like the one where you turned water into wine. Let’s go do another of your miraculous feedings (no bbq, no problem, we’re fine with bread and fish sandwiches).
- And let’s forget about the questions from those Pharisees or the doubts of the Sadducees. We don’t need to worry about people outside the church, because we’re fine with just us disciples. Who needs those worldly unbelievers?
And immediately, Jesus rebukes Peter’s refusal. 23 “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Christians and the church has one purpose with two actions: glorify God through cross-bearing discipleship and opening doors to God’s kingdom to the lost. Everything else is a hindrance to Jesus. You can say you’re following Jesus, but if you’re not helping others follow Jesus, then the shame and regret on the day of Christ’s return will be far too great.
Sharing a few open doors and vision for SPBC…
 W. T. Edwards Jr., “Caesarea Philippi,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 249.
 “The Best Donation,” (No. 2234) an exposition of 2 Corinthians 8:5 delivered on April 5, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England.