Read Mark 8:27-33
27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”
29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”
30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (NLT)
Lots of people reckon Jesus is a pretty decent individual. He said some wise things, was humble and brave. A social radical who got punished in the end by the established powers. It is no surprise to read that there were various views of Jesus in his own day.
Peter, who so often acts as the spokesman for the disciples, concludes Jesus is the real deal, the promised Messiah. So far so good. But it appears he has a rather different idea of just what a Messiah would do. Jesus speaks of suffering and death. Peter probably has visions of great triumph over hated enemies.
Even so, it seems harsh of Jesus to call Peter ‘Satan’. In fact, Peter was echoing what Satan was trying to do in the wilderness temptations. The idea there was to seduce Jesus into being a different sort of Messiah, to have him take the easy road. Peter, understandably, didn’t want terrible things happen to Jesus—or to his followers.
Then and now Jesus does things his way not our way. We don’t tell him what sort of Messiah he will be. We don’t demand he conform to our expectations. He is no tame Messiah. He does it his way, God’s way.