"And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' 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 16:22-23 ESV)
Peter tried to save Jesus from suffering and death. At a heart level, this is a beautiful desire. Peter loved Jesus and wanted Him to live and usher in His kingdom without loss. Peter had no ability to see that the chasm sin created required an infinite payment—that for sin’s reign to end, the perfect Lamb had to die.
Peter’s primary error was thinking that God’s kingdom was like other earthly kingdoms and could be brought about by the usual earthly means. The eyes of his flesh could not perceive the nature of God’s kingdom. Peter’s mind was habituated to see and think according to the world and, therefore, misunderstood what Jesus was doing. In fact, his mind’s inability to comprehend the things of God moved him to actively push against what he most desperately needed.
"Get behind me, Satan!"
One can only imagine how painful this moment must have been for Peter. According to his understanding, he was trying to help Jesus and for his efforts, he was rebuked as Jesus’ adversary. It is important here to remember that Jesus doesn’t overreact and is always loving. Jesus’ response was perfectly calibrated to the danger of Peter’s sin. Though Peter could not understand it, his plan would simply lead to death. In contrast, Jesus’ plan was to die so that Peter might truly live.
God’s ways are not our ways. Our desire to save our clients from their troubles and suffering is, I believe, a good desire. Yet, our greater desire must be for them to receive more of Christ. Often our clients’ troubles and suffering are what teach them to hold on to no other hope than Christ. Their troubles and suffering are the very tools God uses to help their perspective shift from the things of man to the things of God. From the temporary and temporal to the eternal and unchanging. So, may we help our clients be patient with God’s frequently confusing plans, trusting that He is present, He loves us, and His designs for us are perfectly authored in love.