Once as I was reading Matthew 16 aloud, my daughter advised me that verse 23 was her new favorite verse. In this verse, we read, “Get behind me, Satan,” which she thought would be a great thing to say to Satan to tell him to back off. There was a brief pause after she spoke, and then I advised her that Jesus was not even talking to Satan; he was talking to Peter. She was amazed. Why was Peter called Satan?
Yes, Jesus spoke like this to Satan as well. When we look at Matthew 4, we read of Jesus’ time in the Wilderness. After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Wilderness. Satan tempted Him in three different ways, each way resulting in a response with God’s Word. Satan tempted Him with power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure – the same temptations we face. When He was tempted to bow down and worship Satan, He responded, “Be gone, Satan,” which sounds a lot like, “Get behind me, Satan.”
The reason Peter heard these harsh words, “get behind me, Satan,” was because he was speaking about going against God’s Divine plan. Jesus had just spoken about what was to come—His death—and Peter was against this plan. When Peter heard what Jesus said, his response was “far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (v. 22 ESV). He couldn’t understand what needed to be done, and when he rejected God’s plan, he became a stumbling block.
When I read today’s verse, I consider Jesus speaking this to you and I as we reject the plans of God. Are there moments when we become a stumbling block? Are there moments when Jesus is saying to us, “Get behind me, Satan,” because we are not walking the course set before us? Let us continue to dig deeper into His Word, to walk closely with Jesus, constant in prayer, so that we can keep our steps aligned on the path of God’s plan, and by doing so, may we never be a stumbling block to God’s plan.
“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.’” – Matthew 16:23 [ESV]
“Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”” – Matthew 4:10 [ESV]