Name of Shame

Mathew 16: 23

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.”

This is an interesting passage. Jesus had just blessed Peter because Peter, in listening to the voice of God within him, received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ. Then just a couple of verses later, Jesus called him Satan. Why did he do so and what did he mean by it?

As you know, Satan was once known as Lucifer. He was the beautiful angel and his name reflected how he shone like the morning sun. Unfortunately, his beauty went to his head and he led a revolution against God. He was cast out of heaven and his name was changed to Satan.

In Hebrew, a name is not just a name. A person’s name reflects his, or her, essential character. You will have noticed many people whose names were changed, the most obvious being Peter and Paul. When Satan was cast down, he was no longer the bright, shining, beautiful angel he once was. His character overcame his appearance and his new name reflects this character. The name Satan means to be against. Some other words found in the Strong’s Concordance are: to lurk, persecute, oppose self against, to attack, accuse, to be an adversary, resist. Satan is further described by Strong as the arch enemy of good, an opponent. All these words describe Satan’s character and actions. Some are recognizable from other scriptures as in Revelation 12: 10 where he is called the accuser of the brethren. Peter warned that Satan is our adversary (1 Peter 5: 8).

So why would Jesus call Peter by this less than favorable title? Peter meant to be a blessing to Jesus but in rebuking him, Jesus said, “You are standing against me and against my purposes.” Peter would have known the meaning behind the word “satan.” Being Jewish, he understood that Jesus wasn’t renaming him but rather showing him that his ideas opposed Jesus’ purpose. Peter didn’t understand the big picture at that time and he was not on the same page with God’s interests.

Satan opposes everything about God. It is another way we know that God is good because Satan opposes everything that is good. His entire desire is to stand against anything that is Godly. He is never in agreement with God at any moment. There is no darkness in light for when the light comes, the darkness flees. There is no light in darkness. These two stand as polar opposites. Where there is opposition to God’s design, there is satanic influence, meaning against and opposing God’s plan. Peter temporarily stood against God’s plan and Jesus called him on it. Jesus showed him the way and Peter chose to follow Jesus. That is what we must all do. Choose to align yourself with God’s plan even when it does not make sense to your reasoning mind. In the end, you will see the wisdom of God’s design and you will be glad you chose “the way.”