From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!”
But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
As often happened, Peter was the one to speak first. He takes Jesus aside and tries to stop Him from saying that He would be killed. Jesus says the memorable phrase, "Get behind Me, Satan".
As we approach Holy Week, let us consider for a moment this passage from Matthew's Gospel and what it means for us.
Jesus is not accusing Peter of being Satan. He is pointing out that the way Peter is thinking is the way that humans think, no doubt, often, influenced by Satan. This is very significant for us.
There is no possible way that we can think like God; because we are not God, we are not Jesus. We cannot love like God, or forgive like God. The sin of Adam and Eve was not that they ate a forbidden fruit; it was that they wanted to be like God. They were influenced by Satan in their thinking.
So was Peter influenced by Satan at this moment in time when Jesus told His disciples what must have seemed as terrible horrific news. He was going to be killed. Their leader and master for so long, the One they had put their faith and trust in, was going to be killed. They could not see beyond, Christ's death, they could not see the Resurrection and what it meant, because they were thinking like humans.
And so are we, sometimes, often, influenced by Satan in the way we think, act and do. He is clever that way. He knows us well and knows how to tempt us and influence us to his way of thinking. After all, Satan tempted Jesus, so we should not be much of a challenge to him.
He seeks out a weakness in our character and plays on that. It may be a temptation for something or other, a fear of something or someone, a hesitation and a doubting in our faith, and Satan uses this as a way to lead us astray.
Unlike in the times of Jesus, the devil no longer needs to possess people as we read in the Bible. Although he can do so and he does.
These days he is much more subtle. If he were to possess people it would frighten the **** out of us and we'd all go running to Jesus' arms for protection. Somewhat self-defeating a strategy for Satan to use. So he tempts us instead. He makes us think like humans. And uses our own broken fallen character as a weapon against us.
That's what Jesus meant when He called Peter "Satan".
He did not accuse him of being the devil, but that he was thinking like a human and as such he was susceptible to the devil's influence.
" ... but deliver us from the Evil One." (Matthew 6:9-13)