Peter confessed that Jesus was the messiah; Jesus gave him the mission of being the rock upon which, he would build his church. Then He began to explain what it meant to be the messiah; Jesus foretold his suffering, his passion, and his death. Peter didn’t accept this prediction. He took Jesus aside and he rebuked him.
Jesus faced Peter: Get behind me, Satan! In others words before, Peter was in the most important position, whereas now he is in the lowest position. Why? Because he knew who Jesus was, but he didn’t know what his road was. Love until death is his saving mission. Peter becomes as Satan who tried to persuade Jesus to take the easy way and to abandon the road that leads to the cross. Jesus’ words are reminiscent of his response to Satan, “Away with you, Satan”, at the conclusion of the wilderness temptation.
Then Jesus told his disciples that, If anyone wants to come after Jesus, he first must deny himself, bear his cross and follow him. Jesus taught the Great Reversal. The reward of self-denial and cross-bearing is life. The wisdom of the Gospel tells us to face our suffering, not to treat it like an enemy but like a friend, to learn from it, to let it draw us away from self-centered thoughts and feelings, and ultimately to see it as a sharing in the Passion of Christ. Jesus did not turn back from death; he went through the heart of it, and it was transformed into resurrection.
All of us are always tempted to take the world’s high road instead of God’s low road: taking up our cross, serving the needy in Christ’s name.