April 26, 2021
He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matthew 16:23).
In Luke 4:13 we read, When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. This was one of those opportune times. From the lips of Peter, the de facto leader of the disciples, the temptation to skip the cross was once again confronted. The cross loomed large in Jesus' mind, heart, and spirit because it was God’s will for the plan of salvation. But it was Satan’s will that God’s plan of salvation would fail - and Jesus was the key. Tempting Him to abandon God’s will would become critical to that failure.
This was a critical time for the disciples. They were still weak in faith. They were still banking on Jesus being a political, military Messiah. Their allegiance was divided between the Lord and the Jews, what they wanted and what God wanted. How could Peter declare that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God by the inspiration of God, then, under the influence of Satan, turn and rebuke Jesus for His plan in saving the souls of men? All Christians are capable of such a shift in thinking and believing - and many of us make that shift from time to time. Why? How?
God inspires us to embrace the things of the Kingdom. Satan tempts us to embrace the things of the world. The Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the fellowship of the saints, all work to encourage and support God’s will in us. The demons of hell, vain philosophy, humanism, secularism, lost family members and friends, all work to encourage and support the flesh causing us to struggle between God’s desire and our desire, God’s will and our will. Sometimes God wins, sometimes the flesh wins. What do we do? J.B. Coates wrote these lyrics to a song I use to sing as a boy:
“Living below, in this old sinful world, hardly a comfort can afford;
Striving alone to face temptation sore - where could I go but to the Lord?
Where could I go, oh where could I go, seeking the refuge for my soul?
Needing a friend to save me in the end - where could I go but to the Lord?”
In the Garden of Gethsemane a war raged in the mind, heart, and spirit of our Lord - honor God by submitting to His will and die on a cross, or satisfying the flesh by resisting God’s will and rejecting the cross. He set the pattern for us. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
"Thank You, Jesus, for enduring that cross and securing our salvation. May I find myself at the foot of that old rugged cross in my own heart and mind, and yield to it so that You will win the victory over sin and death in my life. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”