Within a few verses of Matthew 16 Peter heard Jesus say to him “Blessed are you” and “Get behind me, Satan”. How did Peter the Rock become Satan so fast?
Any opposing spirit can be called Satan. Usually we think of Satan as a singular being, also known as the Devil, Lucifer, the Evil One or Father of Lies. But we can become opposing spirits or Satans to one another.
In chaplaincy training one has to become very aware and open to one’s feelings. Often those feelings have been deeply repressed but will resurface when we are trying to deal with someone else’s feelings.
I was expressing my feelings for my parents at a certain time of my life. They had resurfaced during a discussion with others. Another chaplain told me that I should have felt other than I did. This chaplain did not understand the circumstances or the consequences of my parents’ actions during a certain period of my life. Beyond that, no one has the right to tell someone else how he/she “ought” to feel. My feelings were my own and laying guilt or shame on them was not helpful. This chaplain had become an opposing spirit to me.
Peter had become a Satan to Jesus when he tried to make Jesus conform to his own expectations. Peter apparently preferred to have Jesus stay safe even if that meant Jesus’ ministry would not be as effective. Jesus was willing to die for the cause of freedom and grace for all peoples. Peter’s spirit was in opposition to Jesus’ spirit.
It is easier than we might think to be in opposition to the spirit of another. For instance, have you ever told someone “Don’t cry.” That is telling the other person that their feelings are wrong. What is more honest is the admission that their tears disturb us and we don’t like it. More helpful is to join the other’s sorrow, expressing “I see that you are hurting, but I am with you to help bear your burden.” Dry their tears from their eyes, but do not deny them their tears.