Our verse for today comes from Matthew 16:23, ” But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’ “
Peter is known as the outspoken, somewhat brazen member of Jesus’ closest friends. And almost every circle of friends has one. They’re the ones who boldly proclaim what should or shouldn’t be done, or they’re the first to point out why something won’t work. Sometimes their words can be spot on what is needed, but many times their remarks are just insensitive and carry a lack a self-discipline and compassion. They might jokingly refer to themselves as the pessimist or the realist of the group, as if that justifies anything that they choose to say. But I don’t think you’ll ever hear this person refer to himself as Satan. But that’s exactly what Jesus called Peter when Peter blurted out the plans of the Enemy. Peter’s quick tongue was being used by Satan under the guise of the love of a friend who couldn’t believe that his beloved leader was destined to die an early death. The rock of Peter had become a stumbling block to Jesus. That’s ironic, too, for years later, Paul writes to the Corinthians and calls the crucified Jesus a stumbling block to the Jews. The One who avoided a stumbling block had become one Himself.
And the problems were the same in both instances. The ways of man were being sought after over the ways of God. It’s startling to hear that the ways of man, the ways that you and I would desire of our own nature, involve Satan trying to keep Jesus from the cross. But then it makes perfect sense when Paul explains that that very cross was the stumbling block that prevented so many Jews from believing in Christ. When man is seeking the things of man, the ways of God make no sense to him. And so, the outspoken is reminded that the ways of God must take precedent over every single opinion, just as the silent must remember as they keep their opinions to themselves. We must avoid the stumbling blocks along the way, while also making sure that we do not become one through our words, thoughts, or actions. According to Jesus, being mindful of His things is the only guarantee of that.
As we seek Him today, find the joy and freedom that exists from putting the things of God before all else. Do not create for yourself any more stumbling blocks, for Satan is hard at work on that already.
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