Maybe say it out loud. Get behind me satan – don’t let that phrase disappear from your mind this week as you encounter the world, use it as your mantra. Use it as your prayer.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen, please sit.
Our gospel oday continues from last week. Remember last week we were talking about that great journey that Jesus and his disciples were taking.
They were journeying south. But they started off by going north. Do you remember that from last week? And remember that in the space of that one verse last week, Jesus had traversed about eight weeks of journey. And so he spent all of this time with his disciples and his disciples had been watching and learning from Jesus.
We continue straight on here. Here is the next scene. Here is the moment when Peter gets it. For the first time the disciples really grasp and understand who it is they’re with.
and like any group of people when they come together and they asked a direct question, is it’s quite hard to answer it directly isn’t it, you always say, oh, well, some people say this. Some people say this. It’s a good journalist trick, actually, to ask a question.
But instead of asking you to yourself, I want to know this. You phrase it in that way, don’t you? Well, some people Prime Minister would say this. It’s the same way of trying to get out of the question or to avoid answering or asking a question directly. And so Jesus pins them down and he says to them, no, who do you say that I am? Bit like a test. You’ve been with me for all of this time. You’ve wondered with me. You’ve seen me carry out these miracles. You’ve heard my teaching.
Do you get it yet? And Peter, gets it. You are The Christ and allujah they’ve got it in that moment. Jesus just says Yes, you’ve got it! All this time we spend together, all these things you’ve seen me doing. You got it. Well done. Brilliant.
And then poor Peter, like almost immediately. And it s like this is his job in the Gospels. Thomas’ job is to ask questions. Peters job is to get a bit carried away. And so Peter then goes to Jesus and does something that results in Jesus saying to him almost immediately, get behind me satan. Poor Peter, Peter’s just got it. Peters just answered the question. You are the Christ. And almost immediately, Jesus is saying to him, Get behind me satan, because Peter wants to run him immediately. He does this throughout the Gospels. And once he gets something, he wants to do something with it. Once he understands something about his face, he wants to make it real. He wants to do something with it.
The Transfiguration is a great example where as soon as he figures out what’s going on, he wants to build three huts for the prophets and for Jesus. So Peter runs in immediately to try and do something but Jesus slaps him down, doesn’t say calm down Peter. Doesn’t try any de escalation techniques.
There is no bridge building going on here. There’s no councillors. There’s no let us sit down, have a cup of tea and a conversation. It’s get behind me satan.
Strong words. And that is the strength with which we should take his warning that we get in this gospel. And he says, Peter, what you are doing is of men and not of God. Jesus doesn’t gently ask us to put aside the things of man, he demands of us in really, really strong language. So when we tempted to put man made things in front of God, that that verse should echo in your head, get behind me satan. Not let me just have a little think about this. It should reverberate around your head. It should bounce of the inside of your skull every time you put man made things before God.
So what? They can bounce around your head. But what difference does that make to the way that you live your life? Well, we have our second reading today, James, which absolutely breaks it open for us.
James, this reading in James is one of those well duh! Reading in Scripture is isn’t it. You read it and Igust makes sense. In fact, somebody came to me just before Mass and they shall remain nameless and said the second reading today. It’s just like, well, yeah, well, yeah here it is because the fruits of our faith is doing good works.
The fruits of our faith in Church is not becoming in charge of this or in charge of that. It’s not collecting those manmade accolades, but it’s by doing good. Its by serving one another. That is how we know our faith is strong because of the outpouring of our faith in the real world.
And when we can’t find in ourselves the ability to do good in the world, then James makes it clear your faith is a dead faith. When your faith just brings you to Church and nothing else. When your face is to tick a box on a form to say CofE or Roman Catholic or whatever. And that’s as far as your faith goes, it is a dead faith. So today I want to ask you, that wonderful question.I can’t remember who said it. I will look it up. Is that wonderful question, If you were put on trial for being Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Now, this is the question this week. That’s what you need to go away and think about. And I want you to apply it to the things that we do here in Church, to food bank, to the Church larder to whatever it is to the guys who sleep on the porch when they have nowhere else to go, to the men and women who sit around the corner drinking is your first thought to wipe them away and to clean up the mess they leave behind? Is your first thought to see whether or not those people are jumping through the right hoops in order to receive help?
Or is your first thought to say, how can I help you? How can I serve you in Jesus name today?
And if your first thought, when you encounter people who need help is, are they doing… Can fit them into the rules? Can I fit them into the structures that we have? Then that’s when that thought needs to bounce around your brain. Get behind me satan. Bounce it around your brain as loud as you can get behind me satan, put it away, put away those man made things and put God first.
And all of a sudden, you will know exactly what to do with the person in front of you who needs your help. And each and every time you do that, each and every time you say, Get behind me satan, and you put God in front and you do what it is that Jesus calls you to do in the world then you will rise closer to him. You will come to know him in a deeper way. His love will be more apparent in your life and you will feel it and you will know it.
Maybe say it out loud. Get behind me satan – don’t let that phrase disappear from your mind this week as you encounter the world, use it as your mantra. Use it as your prayer. The words that Jesus spoke to his disciples. Get behind me satan.