There’s an important moment that happens near the end of Jesus’ Ministry. He tells the disciples, once again, that He is soon to go to Jerusalem where He will be killed. Upon hearing this, Peter blurts out a rebuke of his Lord…
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.
Peter is often criticized as someone who spoke before he thought, and this moment is no exception. It should be noted, however, that on the merits of it, Peter was technically correct. Don’t get me wrong, he was absolutely out of line to rebuke his Master, but the actual argument he made is true.
Jesus was too good to die.
That’s the idea behind the phrase “be it far from you.” It means “this can happen to anyone else, but it can’t happen to you! Never!” To Peter, the idea that someone as pure and good as Jesus being betrayed and murdered was not just unfathomable, it was impossible. Jesus, as Peter saw it, was simply “too good to die.” Would any disagree? Surely not, and yet notice the Lord’s response…
But He turned and said to 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.”
For what reason does Jesus call Peter “Satan” here? I think it’s important to remember that the word “satan” means “adversary,” and isn’t supposed to be seen as the “name” of the Devil, per say (nor is “the Devil” the name of Satan, etc). It seems to me that Jesus is calling Peter an “adversary” here. Why? Probably because his rebuke of the Lord was, unintentionally, an appeal to His vanity. Note that the next thing Jesus says is that Peter is “an offense” to Him. That word means “stumblingblock.” In that moment, Peter was an obstacle to the Lord. How could he be? How could Peter, whom the Lord could make disappear with a snap of His fingers, be an obstacle? Because words and thoughts are powerful things, and Peter has injected a tempting thought into the Lord’s mind: You’re too good to die. That’s how the adversary—THE adversary—works. He uses words and thoughts to lead people astray. You think the wilderness was the only time Jesus was tempted? He’s basically telling us right here that Peter was inadvertently tempting Him to reject the cross.
Is Jesus too good to die? Yes, but He came to be a sacrifice nonetheless. He came to put others ahead of self. He came to die despite being too good for it. Maybe that’s why the next thing He says is…
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
There are some things more important that how they affect “self.” Jesus was too good for the cross.
And yet, to the cross He went.