Read Matthew 16:21-23
21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (NLT)
We may think it harsh for Jesus to speak to Peter in such dramatic terms. How would you like to be labelled ‘Satan’ by someone you admired and loved? After all, Peter has just been telling Jesus that he doesn’t want to see him suffer, that surely such a good and decent man will not be treated like that.
And this is the problem. Like any human being, Jesus would not have relished the thought of suffering and injustice. Later on, he prayed that the cup of suffering on the cross would pass him by. So what Peter was saying was like a sweet, seductive temptation to him. One of his closest colleagues was urging him to put out of his mind any thoughts of pain.
Of course, Peter is not literally Satan. But he is unwittingly acting as his agent. He is reminding Jesus he might take another course of action, he might find a way around his Father’s purposes.
Sometimes, temptation comes to us from the nicest sources, the people seeking to be most helpful to us. We might be set on a path of challenging obedience when some soothing words come to us that there might be an easier way. And we realise there is not. Temptation can be very alluring and attractive, which is precisely why it is so subtle and so dangerous.