“Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” - Mark 8:33b
What are the “things of God” that Peter, and we, should set our minds on? In this instance, the things of God were not nice, sweet things, but the hard truth of Jesus’ upcoming rejection, death, and resurrection. Apparently, this drove Peter to actually rebuke Jesus! Can you even imagine?
When Jesus commands Satan to “get behind” him, he is not calling Peter Satan, but the words flowing from his mouth. Anything that could even attempt to tempt Jesus to veer from the path his father had placed before him was of the devil, regardless of Peter’s intentions.
We don’t tend to run into this problem in our everyday lives. At least not at first glance. We live in a post-resurrection time, something Peter did not have the benefit of. Still, there are moments where we might confront a biblical truth that feels… hard. Unsettling. Something we don’t know how to grapple with. It is in our nature to, like Peter, try to silence or ignore the hard issues.
We aren’t given Peter’s motivation for rebuking Jesus, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t to do with the uncomfortable nature of the things he spoke of. Who wants to think about their leader being killed? Who, in a pre-resurrection time could even comprehend the concept of Jesus coming back from the dead?
We are called to confront the uncomfortable head on - not through anger, snide remarks, or violence; but through gentle words, patient tongues, and self-controlled debate. The things of God aren’t meant to rile the soul, but to nurture and grow a believer. God’s word invites us to relish it, to search it, and to learn it by heart. When you feel the pull of earthly distraction or the “things of the flesh” as Galatians 5 puts it, turn back to scripture, to prayer, to whatever connects you or reminds you of God. Think on Him, and the earthly things will fall away.
Dear Lord, help me to face Your uncomfortable truths head on instead of trying to simply ignore them. Fill my mind with the things of You and shield me from earthly distractions. Plant in me a desire to spend time with You and to learn Your ways. In Jesus name, Amen.