“But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’” Matthew 16:23.
Get behind me, Satan. Jesus says these famous words after He tells His disciples He will have to suffer and die. Although He includes He will be raised on the third day, Peter rebukes Him and says he will never let this happen to Jesus. It’s a reasonable reaction from a friend, trying to assure someone everything will be okay. As we see time and again in the Gospel, Peter is a man of fire; he defends Jesus fiercely (until his denial). It makes perfect sense that if Jesus told Peter He would undergo severe suffering, Peter would try to protect Him.
So, why does Jesus respond so aggressively? Why does He address Satan when speaking to His best friend?
Jesus understands His own human weakness.
Christ was both fully divine and fully human. He was completely God and completely Man. As we see in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asks His father to let the cup of suffering pass from Him. He rebukes Peter’s adamance that nothing will befall Him because He wishes this were the case. His human weakness makes Him reluctant to accept the suffering He became man to undergo.
Jesus shared the struggle we all deal with: fear of hardship. It’s perfectly natural to not want to experience discomfort, big or small.
What are our stumbling blocks? Who are we “Satan” to?
I know I can be a stumbling block to my husband. He is very dedicated to saying the rosary, but I have always struggled with this particular devotion. Often when we’re in the car, we could say the prayer in two parts on the way to and from our destination. But, I am more oriented toward conversation with him. Over our years together, I’ve realized I can be “Satan” in his spiritual devotion. I can think as man does, not as God does. It’s possible to tempt my husband into conversation (which IS good) but away from prayer.
My solution has become this: even if I don’t offer to say the rosary, I do not object to it. At the very least, I can accept his invitation to pray. I can refuse to be a stumbling block in the name of avoiding my own mild discomfort in prioritizing prayer.
Do not be “Satan” to your spouse, in any way.