Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Where The Enemy Belongs

I was listening to the song Under My Feet by Zach Williams recently, and I suddenly thought of Jesus saying "Get behind me Satan."  While I did go to Bible college, I didn't retain much and couldn't quite place where that was from, so like any good former Bible college student, I Googled it.  

Jesus actually said this to Peter, both in Mark 8:33 and Matthew 16:23.  Jesus was explaining what was coming to his disciples and Peter couldn't comprehend that Jesus would actually die.  The Bible says Peter took Jesus aside and said something like this, "Hey, there's NO WAY anything like that could/would ever happen to you!!"  

Peter's fear was welling up inside of him, which seems to have been a theme in Peter's life.  
In terms of my sin and how I view myself, I want to be like Paul, i.e. really see myself as the least worthy of God's grace.  But in my heart of hearts, Peter is a kindred spirit.  He is so very human to me.  

This is the SAME Peter who, in his fear, saw Jesus walking on water and asked him to PROVE himself.  Did Jesus do some miracle with his person (beyond walking on water?!?) to prove he was who he said he was?  


Instead, Jesus challenged Peter to put his money where his mouth was.  Essentially, I feel like Jesus was saying, "If you want proof, you get up and take the step toward me.  That's all the proof you'll need."

Of course, Jesus knew Peter's heart and the fear that gripped it.  And to Peter's credit, at first, while he had his eyes on Jesus, he began to walk on the water as well.  It was only when Peter felt the wind around him that he became distracted and began to sink.  He cried out for Jesus to save him.  And what did Jesus do?  He reached down and pulled Peter up and they climbed into the boat.  

But there seems to be this recurring "ask" with Jesus.  

He will ALWAYS save.  

He will ALWAYS rescue us.  

Even when we doubt.  

Even when we are distracted.  

But, he will also ALWAYS tell us the truth we need to hear.  And then he will usually ask us to do one thing with that truth:  believe.  And sometimes, he will ask us to prove that we believe in Him, in the same way his followers asked him to prove himself, or the same way we ask God to prove himself to us today.

Jesus saved Peter, but he also spoke to Peter's doubt and faith.  He rescued Peter from the fear and physical danger, but he wanted Peter to see that there was a better way.  To understand that when you keep your eyes on Jesus, you can literally walk on water if he calls you to do so.

We could look at Peter and think he was foolish.  First of all, he asked Jesus for proof.  But who of us has never wanted to see a reason or proof of what we cannot see?  We have all questioned and wrestled with different things.  This desire for proof was not exclusive to Peter.  

Jesus did question Peter's faith, and rightly so.  Peter had been doing life with Jesus.  He had seen the miracles Jesus was performing with his own eyes.  And maybe this had strengthened his faith, but he was still having trouble.  

So when everyone is afraid when they see Jesus on the water, and Jesus proclaims who he is, Peter is, at least, WILLING to believe.  Yes, he asked for proof, but he was face to face with Jesus, and he was willing to walk towards Jesus.  And then he took his eyes off of Jesus and became scared, promptly forgetting everything he knew about who Jesus really was (as I know I often do).  When reminded of the truth--that Jesus was who he said he was--Peter wanted to go toward Jesus.  

This is courage.  It might have revealed Peter's lack of faith in Jesus, but it doesn't mean Peter didn't have courage.  Courage says, "I'm afraid, but I'm going to try anyway."  Courage is not an absence of fear.  Peter might have had a small faith, but he still wanted to be close to Jesus.  If Jesus was who he said he was, then Peter wanted to do whatever he could to be close to Jesus, even if it meant stepping out into a sea of waves.  Where Jesus is, fear cannot be.  1 John 4:18 says, "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love."

So when we look back at the story I started with, where Jesus says to Peter, "Get behind me Satan.", we simply need to see that Jesus knew that Peter's fear was from Satan, and he wanted to make sure to put it in its proper place.  Jesus understood what it meant to be tempted by Satan.  He KNEW how Satan twisted Scripture to suit his purposes, because he had experienced it first hand when tempted in the wilderness.  

So, Jesus recognized this same thing happening inside of Peter when Peter began to tell Jesus he would not suffer and die.  Peter's mind was on the world and his fear.  He had allowed the enemy to enter into his mind and twist what he knew of Jesus, even though Jesus had shown him time and time again who he was.  Peter simply couldn't reconcile his heart and his mind, because his fear was so big.

Perhaps the devil was trying to tempt Jesus through Peter, by saying, "Oh Jesus, don't worry.  You won't actually have to die in such a horrible way.  It's all going to be fine."  And Jesus came to show us that no, everything will not be fine.  If we continue on in darkness and sin, with no atonement for our guilt, everything will NOT BE FINE.  Jesus knew what it meant to be human and to be tempted, but he also showed us the RIGHT way to handle it.  

Yes, Peter was rebuked by Jesus.  But Jesus didn't really see Peter as the enemy.  He just understood that the enemy was there in Peter's mind and that Peter's fear was in control.  Jesus was telling the devil he had no place there.  He did not belong.  

Jesus was teaching us how to handle the enemy.  

1.  We have to acknowledge that Satan is always going to be there, lurking, just waiting for the right time to attack.  

2.  We have to remember the truth.  Where Jesus is, the devil has to flee.  

3.  We have to say or think or sometimes DO something that will put the enemy is his proper place.  

Because of how Jesus responded to Satan, we have a blueprint.  We can put him where he belongs, under our feet.

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