From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Matthew 16:21-23

Peter was articulating the common expectation of the Messiah. Everyone expected the Messiah to overthrow the oppressive powers of Rome. Peter’s reaction was a logical reaction to the idea that the Messiah would have to suffer and die. Peter had in mind human concerns but he missed God’s plan. God didn’t just want to overthrow Rome, He wanted to overthrow the very power of sin and death itself. God’s vision was much bigger!

Notice that Jesus first rebukes Satan. Jesus can hear in Peter’s voice the accent of the enemy. Jesus understands that the source of Peter’s rational and reasonable thought was Satan himself. Satan often does his best deceiving when he sounds reasonable and rational. This is how the enemy sounded in the Garden of Eden. It’s how he sounded when he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4). And here the enemy was doing it again.

This is a stark reminder that just because something sounds rational and reasonable doesn’t mean it is from the Lord. The concerns of God are clearly different than the concerns of humanity. God spoke this truth to the prophet Samuel.

“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

The prophet Isaiah also gives us a powerful word from the Lord in this regard.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

The Bible gives us helpful analogies in our relationship with God so that we can understand how to interact with Him. We have the family analogy where we are sons and daughters of the Father. We have the marriage analogy where the Church is the Bride of Christ. We have the anatomical analogy where the Church is the Body of Christ. We have the friendship analogy where Jesus no longer calls us servants but friends. We have the sibling analogy where Christ, the firstborn from the dead, is our brother. We have the Kingdom analogy where we are a royal priesthood.

All of these analogies and pictures help us understand how to connect with and relate to God. But we should never assume God is just like us. In fact, the goal in the Christian life is to become more and more like Him. This should tells us that our starting line is the truth that we are not exactly like Him. Yet, the fact that were originally created in God’s image, that in Christ we are new creations, and that we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us gives us hope that we can grow to become more and more like Jesus.

God is so loving that He can’t help but want to draw near to us. But He is also completely “other” than us. He thinks differently, acts differently, and feels differently than we do. Our job is to learn His ways so that we can conform our life to His (not to demand that He conform His ways to ours).

Where is God calling you to conform your ways to His, your plans to His, or your thoughts to His?

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