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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 16:21-23 From that time forth began Jesus to show 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. 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. (Also see Mark 8:31-33)

In verses 13-20, preceding the lesson text, the apostles of Jesus became convinced that He was the promised Savior and the Son of the living God (See Vs. 16). Because of this uncompromising conviction, it seems that now Jesus thought they were strong enough to begin understanding the events that were to come culminating in His atoning death on the cross of Calvary. Although this belief was first established by Jesus in the opening verse of the lesson text, it was going to take much longer for His apostles to fully understand the reason these events were necessary for Him to establish God's plan of eternal salvation. However it seems that this was the starting point to do so.

Jesus foretold of the impending suffering that He must endure after entering Jerusalem for the His final visit to observe Jewish festival days. It was in Jerusalem that the Sanhedrin met. It was the highest ruling body and was designed to administer justice among the Jewish people. Since Israel, at this time, was under the Roman government, the authority of this Jewish council was limited to certain religious, criminal, and civil matters that only pertained to, and developed between members of the Jewish nation. It was this body that was made up of seventy-one members of the Jewish nation and included the elders and chief priests and scribes that were elected from both the Pharisee and Sadducee religious sects. From this text we know that, after arriving in Jerusalem, the suffering that led to Jesus' sacrificial death would be the direct result of the hostile enmity toward Jesus by the self-serving members that made up this Jewish council, which rejected (Mark 8:31) Him as the promised Messiah, the Son of God.

No doubt His apostles were extremely disheartened when they heard of Jesus' impending suffering and death. But their faith should have been strengthened with Jesus foretelling of the event to take place after He was put to death. However there is hope. They were to accept, believe, and rejoice in the fact that on the third day following His death and burial, Jesus said that He would be raised again. Disregarding all of the other miracles that Jesus performed, this miracle alone was the ultimate proof that He was the Savior and only Son of God. Although His apostles did not comprehend Jesus' teaching at this time, it served as the beginning of their complete understanding. From Luke 24:45-47 we learn that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and was last taught to them immediately before He departed earth and ascended back into His heavenly home.

However at this time, without complete understanding of the events foretold by Jesus, Peter, as was his custom, spoke for the entire body of apostles and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. The misunderstanding that the Messiah was expected to come to earth, set up His kingdom, and become a worldly ruler, was still the opinion of these apostles as well as the entire Jewish nation. Disregarding His prophesy that He would be raised from death, and, even though they truly believing Him to be the Son of God, they could not accept the teaching that Jesus would suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and be slain.

Turning to Peter Jesus said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me. Jesus did not accuse Peter of actually being Satan, but rather the words of doubt in Jesus' prophetic truths that were soon to come. Such doubtful words in Christ Jesus come from the devil, himself. They are Satan-inspired, just as the doctrines of religious leaders that had been, and still were, leading the nation of Israel into disbelief of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Refusing to accept the inspired Old Testament prophesies, Jewish leaders rejected the things that be of God, and, through the influence of Satan, accepted those that be of men. To all that disregard God's Word, Jesus reproves: Get thee behind me, Satan.