Text Size: Zoom In

A Friend Called Satan?

Jesus isn’t remembered for saying many predictable things.

But the unexpected quote that has had my attention today is when our Teacher suddenly talks to one of his most committed disciples as if he is talking to his enemy.

One minute he is blessing Peter and telling him that he (Peter) had been entrusted with insight that was not given to him by men, but by God (Matt 16:17). Moments later, the same Teacher turns to the same disciple and says, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt 16:23)

Admittedly, the subject of the conversation had changed. In the first case Jesus was affirming Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). In the second instance, the Teacher was responding to the same disciple’s refusal to accept what Jesus said must happen. When Jesus began to tell his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, to be killed, and raised the third day (Matt 16:21), Peter reacted with, “Never Lord… this shall never happen to you!” (Matt 16:22).

Peter’s response seems so  full of natural affection and good will. The disciple who was known for saying what he was thinking wasn’t willing to accept  that his Teacher would suffer and be killed. Yet Jesus responded to one of his best friends as if, in that moment, Peter was speaking like an enemy who had a heart for the things of man– but not the things of God (Matt 16;23 )

Who among us can read this many years later without imagining ourselves as having said exactly what Peter said out of the “goodness” in our heart? And who among us can read our Lord’s surprising answer by realizing  how dependent we are on his help to find the treasure he has waiting for us–at the end of paths we would never choose for him, for ourselves, or for others.

But there’s something else I still wonder about here. I still haven’t been able to figure out why, in the first case, Jesus talked to Peter as if Satan would not want Jesus to suffer, and die in Jerusalem (Matt 16:23). Yet, as it turns out, Satan has a hand in bringing Peter to the point of denying that he’d ever known Jesus. Then the same devil enters into Judas to sell and betray Jesus to the religious leaders who wanted to do exactly what Peter/Satan was resisting (Luke 22:3). Did Satan have a plan? Or as events unfolded, was he improvising from the kind of heart that is blindly evil to the point of being irrational and inconsistent in any given moment?

In the first incident, was Jesus just likening Peter to “Satan” because in that moment the disciple was opposing Jesus reason for coming into the world? Or was he implying that man’s ways, like Satan’s, can be so blinded by self-interest that we can be as unpredictable in doing evil as our Lord is unpredictable in the ways he shows his love?

Whatever the answer I find myself reminded in these events of how much we need the Lord to lead us in ways that we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.  On our own we’d miss those paths that he always walks before us, and with us…. to take us places we would never see without his presence, humility, mercy, compassion, goodness,  infinite foresight, creativity and faithfulness to undeserving people like us.

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+39 rating, 39 votes)

33 Responses to “A Friend Called Satan?”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    I have come to a point in my prayer life many times when all I can say is “I trust you Father, I trust you.”

    Sometimes I am so weary and exhausted from the battle it is all I can say when things seem to be the opposite of what I pray for or hope for.

    I have learned to not resist, just to tell God that whatever it is He is doing or allowing, I trust Him.


  2. s2inkzoo says:

    I am reminded of the Proverb I read today: Prov 20:24 “A man’s steps are from the Lord, how then can man understand his way?”. So, we need to rely on God’s guidance, even if we don’t understand it. Peter was thinking as I would, that the ministry of Jesus was the most important thing. Who would not think that the greatest teacher there ever was, should stay on earth as long as possible, to teach as much as possible. Yet, that was not God’s way. A quote that stand out from G Vernon McGee comes to mind — “No one was ever saved by Jesus life. They have only been saved by his death and resurection.”.

  3. BruceC says:

    God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways and thoughts are above ours.
    Whereas Satan and unrepentant,unbelieving man have so much in common. I cannot remember the verse offhand that speaks to this.

    Also there is a hymn that says “trust and obey for there’s no other way”.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  4. poohpity says:

    I fully understand pride. I have seen it bring down many a person and those around them. With all our hearts in a, so we think, loving way but in the end selfish motives like no one can do it better than I can, bring destruction to those we have sworn to seek the best for. When in reality it turns out to be the worst for all because we can not let go of control. Peter wanted things his way, how many of us do the same, when the Lord had a different plan that was better for all but the blinders were on because Peter did not want to let go of the One he loved so much. Yep blinded by self interest, I understand, especially by being a parent and by being a person who has a hard time letting go and putting things in God’s care.

    The difference in misery and joy. Pride brings misery and trust brings joy. Our plans, misery or His plans, joy.

  5. adacjp says:

    I am facing an enormous task, given to me by the Lord. Lately, I have been stalling, not moving ahead because I really want this task to just go to someone else. Yesterday, while I was reading a book about waiting on God, I could feel His displeasure with my poor attitude. Your blog has affirmed God’s displeasure.

    I am getting up and pressing on. Thanks for sharing. Tam

  6. poohpity says:

    The difference in remaining in the boat and stepping out into the water.

  7. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends!

    As I prayed this morning, I acknowledged that situations and circumstances seem complex and obscure to me most of the time – myriads of factors enter in. Yet, I stand in awe that all this is clear to God – and in God’s hands, not mine. I am settling in a new town, among mostly new people, families, situations, new church, unfamiliar ministry settings – whew! My head is swimming, but the Lord is taking my hand and speaking to me (Isaiah 30:21).

    What an anchor is our God! I am mighty grateful. There cannot be transformation in my life unless I step up to changes with Christ’s courage. He spoke in Peter’s direction, but he rebuked the evil one. Peter’s time of sifting (Luke 22:31) would come. It is God who rightly led Peter after all; and he faced his own fear and disloyalty after all. Then, he received the keys of the kingdom. (Matthew 16:18, 19, 20)

    It seems to me we do not turn to Satan and say, “Thanks, I needed that!” Rather, we cling to the Lord and give him all praise, thanksgiving and love. He moves with God’s permission – thus far and no farther.


  8. fadingman says:

    Sometimes we suppose Satan thinks more like God than ourselves in certain ways.

    Knowing everything before it happens, God has no need of a ‘Plan B’. But Satan is much more like us: he doesn’t know the future. He might know some things that are going to happen, but he probably has plans and backup plans and backups to backups to try to accomplish his desires. When one plan doesn’t work (i.e. Peter rebuking his Lord), he’ll try another (entering into Satan to betray Jesus). If he couldn’t stop Jesus from dying, perhaps he could have Jesus killed before He got to the cross. It’s like when we operate in panic mode and we start trying one thing right after another for a solution.

  9. SFDBWV says:

    God through the Son created everything that exists (John 1: 1, 2, 3), that includes Satan.

    Satan is a spirit being; one thing about spirit beings as well as a mans spirit is that it can influence others, especially in an atmosphere of free will.

    Satan has never had any power over anything in Gods creation that isn’t given to him by another.

    God both allows Satan to roam freely as well as uses him when it is convenient for God to do so.

    The cross was Christ’s purpose and God’s will (John 9: 39, John 12: 47, Luke 22: 42).

    Satan could never have stopped the process that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.

    In my opinion either Satan is the most stupid of all of God’s creation or the most obedient to achieve God’s will as being the adversary in the living story of God and man.

    Peter spoke as one who was ignorant of Jesus’ purpose; Jesus accused it as being Satan’s voice, a voice he had heard before in the wilderness (Luke 4: 8).

    This is what evil influences do; they mislead us and offer us a half truth in order to lead us away from God’s desires for us.

    Jesus needed to impress upon Peter and all of us of the danger of being ignorant of scripture and not able to discern between what influences our thoughts and so actions are germinated from.

    There is a reason that the archangel Michael would not bring a railing accusation against Satan but left that matter to God. (Jude 1:9)

    Jesus put Satan in proper position, behind Jesus and under His authority.

    We can do the same.

    Believe God, trust Him even in our ignorance, and know whose voice influences us.


  10. confeticat says:

    Wasn’t looking for a formal invitation (ha) but thank you for inviting me back. However, I don’t feel prepared to talk about Satan as he never bothers me (is that bad?), except what I see him doing to others.

  11. poohpity says:

    Who do you think has held you back from seeing that Jesus is the Christ?

  12. poohpity says:

    Who do we feel it is that holds us back from the great commission? Who tells us we can do things our self and depend only what can be done in our own strength?

  13. poohpity says:

    Even if it kills us, we have a very hard time letting go of control, who do you think is behind that?

  14. isaiah43123 says:

    Was He telling Peter and us to let Him take the driver’s seat instead of the back seat?
    Keep the Faith!

  15. royalpalm says:

    When Jesus predicted that He will suffer at the hands of religious authorities, He also predicted His resurrection. (Matt. 16:21). When Peter rebuked Jesus, Matt. 16:22. it appeared that he was only thinking of the suffering and death of Jesus; he did not project his mind to the glorious resurrection that would prove the power of God and His approval and acceptance of Jesus as the atonement for sin.

    I believe, this is the reason why Jesus told Peter, … “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matt. 16:23 . Why Jesus addressed Peter as Satan was startling; He knew that Satan had influenced Peter.

    From this lesson, I learn that when I focus my thoughts on earthly things like pain, suffering, death, etc. my thoughts can be easily manipulated by Satan – through fear, anxiety, depression, etc. I need to meditate on the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Saviour and what He has accomplished on my behalf so I can live a life that is pleasing to Him…

  16. tracey5tgbtg says:

    It is a good point raised – why would Satan lead Peter to protest Jesus suffering and dying, yet be the catalyst that would lead Judas to betray Jesus into the hands of those who caused Jesus’s suffering and death?

    We cannot know for sure but it seems to me that with Peter, Satan saw an opportunity to tempt Jesus away from following His Father’s will and seek His (Jesus) own best interests. I think it is always the inclination of man to avoid suffering for ourselves and others. We often pray for others that their suffering would be eased. But is that God’s will or do we have in mind the things of man?

    I have read that Satan isn’t omniscient. He doesn’t know everything and He doesn’t know God’s will. Just as Peter didn’t know why Jesus spoke about suffering and dying, Satan didn’t realize what the ultimate plan of God was, but he wanted to tempt Jesus, as in the desert, with not being obedient to His Father.

    With Judas, Satan must have seen what appeared to him to be a chance to “destroy” Jesus in shame and humiliation and he took it. Once again, I don’t think Satan was ever aware of “the things of God.”

  17. phpatato says:

    Tracey you said so nicely what I think as well.

    I think satan is desperate. He saw that death could not contain our Lord Jesus Christ. satan is no fool though, he knows his time is running short and is frantically seeking those to devour and destroy.

    I am wondering….if Jesus was alive on earth today, could he not say to any of us when we rely on our own thoughts and plans to “Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to Me”? If He said it to Peter of all people, who was just voicing what he as a human was feeling and thinking, could he not say it to us in our daily walk with Him? Or is it that because Peter had been entrusted with a God-given gift of insight so should have known better and was therefore held a little more accountable?

    I grew up with a wonderful Christian mom who passed this down from her wonderful Christian mom….”If Jesus was right here right now, what would He say to you about _______” (fill in the blank: eg how you are acting or what you are saying). That always seemed to tone me down especially when she finished with “You know even though you can’t physically see Him, He sees and hears what you say and do”.

  18. billystan121 says:

    In the book of Job we have a story about a man who through God’s blessings has everything a man could ask for. Then while holding a staff meeting in His office God sees an uninvited guest. But instead of having him removed God approaches him. Standing like he’s right at home is Satan. A challenge is set forth by these two corporate heavies and all of a sudden Job looses everything children, property, livestock, everything. But Satan’s plan fails to produce results. Another meeting at headquarters and again Satan shows up. Now Satan wants God to allow him to harm Job. Reluctantly God agrees under one circumstance; that Satan does not kill Job.
    All the time all of this is going on Job is not aware of any of it. But above all he remains faithful to God. Even Job’s wife gets in on the act telling Job to curse God and die, Job remains loyal and replies, Shall we accept good from God without accepting adversity?

    Job was indeed put into a situation he was not expecting and he stood boldly in the face of adversity and let his faith shine on his path. How many of us today would be able to step up to the plate if everyone of our children died in one tragic event? Would we remain true if all of our possessions were destroyed or our property was totally wiped out.

    I can tell you that the death of a family member is a hard thing to swallow. I can also tell you that relying on God to get through tough times is a much better way to get to the other side. September 30, 2008 4:00am my wife takes her last breath after a long hard battle with kidney failure.

    In February of 2008 my pastor asked me to be a leader in the Sunday morning Men’s Bible study. I was extremely reluctant and even tried to pass it off to someone else. God though was persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Before the next week was over I accepted the position. Little did I know that God was preparing me for that fateful day in September.

    Like our friend Joshua I can say, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:15) Through His foreknowledge of what would happen September 2008, God used a Bible study to prepare me for what was ahead.

  19. confeticat says:

    Mart’s question in his last two paragraphs hasn’t been answered and I’d like to take a stab at it if I may. The question was, did Satan have a plan or was he irrational? We know he had a plan to stop Jesus from shedding his blood, because he tried to interfere with the bloodline in the Old Testament through the line of Judah, the attack on kings that descended from David to prevent his royal birth. When that didn’t work, he had a change of plan and had Herod kill all the babies.

    But then there came the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. What was primarily on Satan’s mind there was, “If you are the Son of God…” He had known the Son of God in heaven and knew he could not tempt him, but now he thought, with human blood in his veins he could pull it off. Satan found out he did not have human blood in his veins, he was still the Son of God. He had only confined himself to a human body.

    So when Satan entered Judas, he knew he had failed with Jesus, but he wanted to make sure that the nation of Israel, through the Jewish leaders, went on record as opposing Jesus (Luke 20:19). It was an attack on God’s people.

  20. SFDBWV says:

    As has rightly been stated Satan is not omnipresent nor is he omnipotent, he is an angel of light that according to scripture challenged God.

    Peter challenged God’s will for Jesus when he ignorantly disagreed with Jesus’ explanation of coming events.

    We have no idea the tone of voice or the emotion that went into Jesus’ remark to Peter, only the report of what was said.

    Was it given in anger as a sharp rebuke or rather given as a lesson to a child from a tender loving teacher?

    The matter of Jesus’ coming passion death and resurrection is a matter of foreknowledge given from the very beginning of the story and continued to be exposed throughout the history of the written record of God and man. Yet only a very few scholars understood it, Peter did not and neither did the elite of Israel’s leaders.

    Perhaps Jesus said this to Peter as a sigh of disgust as a teacher who keeps giving a lesson to a student who just can’t get it.

    Maybe if it had been recorded in this way it would have been understood by all concerned; “Peter you sound like Satan, not wanting God to have His will accomplished, you are not thinking like God but like an ignorant man who does not know why this is about to happen.”

    Make no mistake about it Jesus loved Peter and He loves us, warts and all.


  21. bratimus says:

    It’s not that satan has a plan to stop the will of God. As it is to get man to ignore the will of God. satan knows it is doomed ever since it was cast out of heaven

  22. oneg2dblu says:

    Been on the road and checking in breafly now and then…just to hear a few familar voices and to be challenged by Mart’s ever thought provoking leading.
    We and satan operate under two common things, freewill and God’s ultimate judgement. What we do with one affects the other, but satan never outwits, overplays, or dominates God’s Ultimate Authority.
    I believe one of the reasons God has given us this powerfully releasing verse in 1 Corithians 10:13 is that he always prepares us for where He leads and because He leads us and we still make our freewill choices, He also gives us a way out from under it, Our Freewill is the godgiven ability to choose either good or evil, darkness or light, His plan, or the world’s.
    Is Satan a friend? Yes, he can be every time we choose him to be. He only tempts, and we have to choose!
    Speaking of tempts.. expecting cooler tempts in Gloucester tonight but it has been in the upper 90s for days now.
    I wonder how some might even see pride in Peter’s act of stepping out of the boat. I don’t, but if we are tempted to look for pride in others, we could say he stepped out in his own strength and failed!
    Will we step out of our boat today? If so, will it be seen an act of faith, or seen as pride?
    I trust that faith can cause us to move beyond where pride would take us… Gary

  23. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems to me any rational analysis of Satan’s behavior yields an outcome of chaos. His driving motivation (Isaiah 12:12, 13, 14) appears to be total self-centeredness, delusions of grandeur, arrogance and rebellion against the authority of God.

    Satan has his place in God’s purposes, however. I believe the Lord unleashed him upon Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4, 5); and that Satan’s accusations of Job were heard and testing was permitted (Job 1:12); and Jesus knew that Satan’s demand to sift Peter was going to be allowed (Luke 22:31). I have not done the work to cite all examples of old Slew-Foot’s dark work through history!

    Paul told the church that Satan is a deceiver (2 Corinthians 11:14). Yet, a single angel, the representative of Jesus Christ, chains him up until the time when God will have a use for him again (Revelation 20:1, 2, 3) in the grander scheme.

    Satan’s agenda is confusion and the three Rs: rape, riot and rebellion. When my earthen vessel is placed in Satan’s path, temptation works at the places where I have been shattered and with repentance and forgiveness, carefully mended by Jesus’ blood. I bear the scars of sin – and apparently Satan has the right to test me at just those points.

    “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”


  24. remarutho says:

    My Isaiah reference is Isaiah 14:12, 13, 14 — sorry!

  25. confeticat says:

    I Cor. 10:13 is rather generic in the King James – “such as is common to man.” But in some other translations, it reads that you won‘t be tempted (or tested – the other side of the coin) “above your powers” or “beyond your strength.” Sometimes in our weakness that’s not very far – we all can and have been tempted beyond those points. The way of escape Paul is talking about is temporary – until we’re tempted again. Another translation reads “too hard for flesh and blood to bear” which brings us back to our passage on Peter. He said to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” and Jesus told him that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him (Matt. 16:16,17). Jesus said “Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit; you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again” (John 3:6,7). Choosing is a waste of emotional energy – when you’re born anew Jesus does the choosing for you.

  26. poohpity says:

    Deception and rebellion. When we do not get something we think we should have, or even when our prayers are not answered the way we want them answered that will put us in a rebellious mode. If you really loved me God, then….

    When we are deceived into thinking we do not matter and can do nothing to benefit the Kingdom. We have to remember the deceiver can come as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) anything to get our eyes off of God. I can not ever think I am free from it or let my guard down because there is always a chance that I will either be deceived or be in rebellion without even giving it a thought. The minute my mind goes off in a direction that does not go along with what God says about me or that is against what His Word says, I have to take my thoughts captive. (2 Cor 10:5 NIV)

    When we let anger, bitterness, malice and unforgiveness hold us captive then it is not Christ who has us. Those are obvious signs I have to remember that satan’s wiles are not so obvious. A twisted word here and there is more like what the devil does.

  27. poohpity says:

    I do not feel that Jesus had a hard time holding others accountable especially knowing how much He cared for them and us. To let them continue on their current path would not be holding them to truth and then how he administered restoration showed the grace and mercy he asks us to show. Not correcting Peter in essence would be showing approval and anyone we really love especially our children we admonish to get them on a right path even though at the time it may not have been pleasant. It is referred to as tough love.

  28. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    This is interesting, Pooh. To whom was Jesus speaking? He directed his displeasure in Peter’s direction. The correction or warning did have a message for the disciple, but he addressed someone else. In the end-times, even as Satan rages more and more – Jesus will have the last word.

    It seems to me, there is no teaching or admonition that can sway the evil one from the intention of replacing God on the throne. Makes me think of Psalm 1: First stage, following the advice of the wicked; second stage, taking the path that sinners take; stage three sitting down permanently in the place where those who mock God stay. To my mind, there is no way around the fact that Satan sets the standard for all-out rebellion against God. Peter was not very far down that road. His opposition to Jesus’ self-sacrifice could be corrected. It took the actual unfolding of the event for Peter to come to a true understanding of its greatness. I believe he was in the cross-fire.


  29. cherielyn says:

    My former pastor once made a remark that was a real eye-opener and made me think deep and long. He said that if Satan isn’t doing something to disrupt your life then you need to be very concerned.

    He said that Satan won’t bother those who already belong to him, but he does everything in his power to disrupt the lives of Christians or those who are being drawn by God and are on the brink of making a decision to be a Christian.

    Satan doesn’t need to cause havoc in the lives of unbelievers because they are already his property. But, if one of them hears the truth and begins asking questions and showing interest, that is when he will go on the attack.

    Satan – a friend? I don’t think so!

  30. confeticat says:

    Jesus says the only way to enter the Kingdom of God is to receive it like a child (Luke 18:16,17). He is not asking a child to take on Satan. In John 14:30 he said ‘the prince of this world is coming, and has nothing in me.” That is, he has no hold, no rights over Jesus. Then he goes on into chapter 15 and talks about him being the vine and we the branches that abide in him. To get to us he would have to come through Jesus.

    There’s no joy when a person is constantly battling the devil. He says, “I have spoken this to you, so that my joy might remain in you, and your joy complete.” (John 15:11).

  31. poohpity says:

    Maru, you mentioned before (Luke 22:31 NIV) that God gave permission to sift Peter but I think that went for all the disciples as well because many of them scattered (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 16:32) when trails came as predicted many years before(Zech 13:7). God knew their hearts and the evil one but continued on the mission (1 Sam 16:7; Proverbs 15:3). God has seen fit to allow satan even with His believers to sift us and it seems to show us where our own hearts lie because if God already knows the hearts of who are His and who just say the words then the sifting separates the chaff from the wheat. So in that instance it would seem that God can use even satan for His own good purposes. He is not our friend nor is he a friend of God but satan is one of God’s creations and thus can be used to accomplish His purposes. After all even the evil one answers to our Lord as does all of creation.

    Like Paul who was able to see then struck with blindness so that He could really see. God knew his heart. For those who “say” that they follow God when the trails come as they will it really shows who has our heart but we should find comfort knowing that God already knows, we have been prayed for and restoration upon confession. (Luke 22:32 NIV)

  32. poohpity says:

    Maru, I think Jesus was speaking to all of us because we are His disciples.

  33. phpatato says:

    Good thoughts Deb!!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.