Earlier Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). Obviously he realised who Jesus was. He regarded Jesus as the Deliverer of Israel (the Christ) and was convinced that he was divine. Yet it is obvious that Peter did not yet understand that the journey of Jesus as the Messiah involved his death because he now objects strongly to it.
Jesus had informed the disciples in great detail about his coming arrest, death and resurrection. Peter’s objection was a contradiction because he managed to combine in a sentence his acceptance of Jesus as Lord and his disagreement with Jesus’ intention.
Why did Peter make this response? He did it because he loved Jesus with all his heart. There was nothing clinical in Peter’s response. It was an expression of strong love, but it was an uninformed love because he refused to listen to what Jesus was teaching about his death.
How did Jesus react to Peter’s rebuke? His response shows the seriousness and the sinfulness of Peter’s desire. He was now acting like the devil and suggesting that Jesus should not fulfil God’s plan. Peter is a reminder that uninformed love is only a step away from becoming a hindrance. The rock has become a stumbling block.
Peter’s mind had been enlightened by the Father, but the enlightenment was not static. He had grasped profound truth, but there was much more to know. It was basic to discipleship for a disciple to think about what he had been taught by his teacher. Peter had not done this, and now he found himself standing in front of Jesus as a hindrance rather than as a disciple following behind Jesus. In attempting this role reversal, Peter discovered the inflexibility of Jesus.