But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”
(Matthew 16:23 MSG)
When Jesus spoke of His impending death, “Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!” (Matthew 16:22). From Peter’s viewpoint, there was no room for suffering and death for the Messiah. So Jesus corrected His mistaken disciple, calling the real spirit behind Peter’s criticism “Satan”. After all, the devil wanted Jesus to avoid suffering and the cross. We see this reality unfold early in the Gospel of Matthew when the devil tempts Jesus to avoid going to the cross (Matthew 4:8-10). Like Satan, Peter had ‘no idea how God works.’
Sadly, there are people who have been following Jesus for a long time and still have no idea how God works too. They have their own preconceived notions of what God’s plan should look like. Just listen to them long enough and you’ll know whether what they say is from God or the devil. Listen to what Jesus did after confronting Peter, “Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it”’ (v.24).
Surely, no one wants to be called Satan but that’s who we could be like when we distort God’s plan to make it fit our own. But knowing how God works can help us avoid being called by that name.