From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 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." — Mt 16:21-23
I am not a natural rebounder. I wasn't born with incredible grit or the ability to face insurmountable odds or be pushed down and get back up again. My natural, innate style is more of the "let discouragement overtake you" , "you're a failure, you've messed up, you're ruined forever". Dramatic, you say? Well, I did always want to be an actress (sometimes my mom still thinks that's my lost calling...). But really, when I'm defeated, I'm out. You win.
"You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." This is one of the most terrifying things I could ever imagine Jesus saying to me. I would be absolutely crushed to the lowest place if Jesus told me I was a hindrance to Him. All Peter wanted to be was a brave, faithful follower, and yet he's being called Satan and a hindrance! If I were Peter, I might have just said, "okay, that's enough, I don't actually need this. I was just trying to help you out here, Jesus, but I don't need to be accused of literally being the Devil. Peace out." That's the quitter in me. This is embarrassing to lay out there, but if I'm truthful, that's my natural tendency.
If I were Jesus, I probably would have quit on Peter. I would have called him out on what he was doing, and written him off. He doesn't believe, he's not fit to follow me. A do-or-die situation. And don't get me wrong-- right after this, Jesus tells the disciples that they must die to themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. He leaves no room to question: you must be all in. And it's in his graciousness even still that he tells them this-- because he very well could have just walked off from Peter and written him off forever.
But there's a reason Jesus calls Peter out. Peter was only focused on what he could see. He couldn't see how what he hoped and dreamed of for Israel could come true if Jesus died. It was the opposite of what he wanted. He wasn't seeing what God sees--trusting that what God sees, even in our small and dim view, is better than our own. Jesus saw it. Jesus saw the future in Peter. He saw what Peter was becoming, and would become. He didn't let his failure define him or write him off. He saw what God saw: hope.
The only reason I feel at all capable or willing to share this to the world is that, without Jesus, I am a quitter. Without Jesus, I am willing to back down, I'm grit-less, courage-less, utterly defeated. I am pressed AND crushed. I deserve all the bad that comes and none of the joy, because i'm just an utter failure. But the absolute beauty of the Gospel and of God's immeasurable grace is that he sees us in that state-- our entirely hindered state-- and He doesn't leave us there. He says, "see, your are a hindrance because of where your eyes are set: on earth." We're looking at our own circumstances, our own capabilities, our own flaws, and saying "hey, not happening, impossible, no way." And Jesus says to us "Set your mind on the things of God, not on the things of man." Stop looking at the state you were in before you met me. You are no longer that person. You, Nancy-Page, are defeated. But you, Nancy-Page in Christ, can persevere with joy, trusting that God's plans are higher and mightier than your plans, his ways higher and mightier than your ways. And you're going to have to trust me along the way.
I want to challenge you to do something: exchange my name for your own in that last sentence. Do you believe that to be true? Friends, in all honesty, I'm writing this to myself more than anyone. I've had a day where I've wondered if all I'll ever be is a hindrance to Jesus, so flawed and frail that I'll never be able to be used for His kingdom. But I'll tell you, that is the lie; that is Satan. That doubt, that disbelief of Peter's that Jesus would be put to death, the disbelief that you or I will never amount to anything for God's glory-- they're all lies.
Somedays, I am not sure anyone is out there reading this (okay, to those of you who text me, I know that's not true...). But if just one of you reads this and relates in some way to the lies that I tell myself, I am praying right now that you hear this: God has plans for you. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. To give you a hope and a future. And God can use the broken, disheveled, discouraged parts of us for His glory, not because of anything we can cobble together-- but because He's just that good.
Dear God, You alone are good. You see the quitter in me, and in your gracious, lovingkindness, you offer me hope. May we not be a hindrance to your work, but rather, would we accept that your ways are greater than our ways, and trust that you alone are in control, and are bringing us out of darkness into your marvelous light. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Dig Deeper: Can you relate at all to this (or am I just crazy?) Are you holding on to parts of yourself that Jesus died to heal? Will you let him do it? Will you trust him that his ways are higher? Trust him with me, friends. With all your heart.