the weblog of Alan Knox

Get behind me, Satan

Posted by on Mar 14, 2009 in discipleship, scripture | Comments Off

Tomorrow, God willing, I plan to teach from Matthew 16:21-23. I say, “God willing”, not just as “Christianese”, but my plans are not always God’s plans – as he showed me last week.

But, here is the passage:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance1 to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21-23 ESV)

While there are many things that I could write about, I want to discuss about the non-verbal communication in this passage. Non-verbal communication includes things like gesture, posture, expressions, etc. There are two specific instances of non-verbal communication in this passage:

First, Peter takes Jesus aside. He removes Jesus from the presence of the other disciples, before he rebukes Jesus.

Second, after Peter’s statement, Jesus turns around – probably turning away from Peter. This action puts Peter behind Jesus.

Think about how Peter’s non-verbal action communicates along with his “rebuke” of Jesus. Think about how Jesus’ non-verbal action communicates along with his statement to Peter (and probably to others).

This type of communication does not use words, but it can be very loud – very expressive. Plus, could it be that Peter taking Jesus aside tells us something about the way Peter “rebukes” Jesus? Could Jesus turning his back on Peter reveal something about Jesus comment to Peter?

These actions communicate meaning, and we should take these into account, both when we’re studying Scripture, but also when we are communicating with other people.