Get thee behind me, Satan!
Matthew 16:23. “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
This quotation is often taken by Christians as proof that the Mission of Jesus laid solely in His coming to die and carry the sins on mankind on His shoulders. Here He was apparently rebuking Peter to get away from Him because the latter had made statements which were meant to cast doubt on this general assumption about the Mission of the Son of God.
In the first place Peter, as would be normal of many men was telling his Lord that what He had told them about going to Jerusalem and suffering many things in the hands of the Pharisees would not be permitted to happen and would not come to pass. This was a perfectly legitimate thing for Peter to say since he loved Jesus and would do anything in his power to prevent any evil from befalling Him. The reply from Jesus, however, seemed completely out of character. It was like it was plucked out of the air. This reply did not accord in any way with how Jesus had related to His disciples previously.
What are we to imply from this? The only conclusion to be drawn from this is that these words were not those of Jesus because it is inconceivable that Jesus Who was the personification of Love would speak thus. There would have been other ways to reply to Peter’s statement rather than to call him the Devil. It is completely out of character and nature of the Son of God to resort to abuse.
It is safe to say that those who came later to interpret the Words of the Son of God and try to make sense of the whole thing and in order to make things fit their own interpretation of things must have inserted this reply. They tried to impute a statement to Jesus that could not have originated from Him since this is alien to His nature.
If we think these matters through ourselves it should not be difficult to discern this and as mentioned above this statement stands entirely on its own and could not have been uttered by Jesus. The only other place He used this statement was when He was being tempted by the Adversary and in that case this statement was entirely appropriate.
The Mission of the Son of God did not lie in carrying other people’s sins on His shoulders but to bring the Word of God so that we might follow this Word and change ourselves for the better by walking on the path shown. He was not meant to walk this path for us but He was meant to show us the way so that we might walk on this path ourselves.
Which human being would send his own son to go and die and carry sins which he did not commit on his shoulders? Or perhaps die in place of the true perpetrator of a murder. This is against every sense of Justice, yet we would have to regard God as having the ultimate sense of Justice. If God is perfection and as such has the ultimate sense of Justice, it is therefore inconceivable that He would send someone else, even His own Son to come and die and carry other people’s sins on His shoulders. If this is already impossible with human justice how much more so must it be inconceivable and impossible with God.
Let us pray that we be given the possibility to understand the Word of God and act accordingly.