“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” —Matthew 16:21, 22
What an interesting and mysterious thing; that the irresistible grace of God to call men and the unconditional election of God to choose men are such that most men called and chosen can look at the sovereign Lord in the face and openly rebuke Him— “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” It is certainly true, as the scripture says, “…that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” because “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise… the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27).
We rebuke the Lord in many instances and circumstances, and if we are not communing with Him, abiding in Him, and submitting to Him, we may even be unaware of how reproving to God’s will we truly are. He desires, for our own good, that we spend a few more precious moments with Him, yet we’re off doing something else. Even “ministry” often gets in the way of what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, or praiseworthy. Yet, in these instances, Christ lovingly and longingly beckons our repentance and renewal, to turn from the struggle and weariness of sin: “Come unto Me,” He says, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Yet, in our scripture text, Peter’s rebuke was much worse. Why? He denied the truth of the cross of Christ. He told the sovereign God that His precious plan, a plan ordained before the foundation of the earth, should not come to pass; and Peter received a stern rebuke for this: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23). When one denies the truth of the cross of Jesus Christ, he is as opposing to God as Satan himself.