by Tad Lindley
When you savor something, you love it. It is special to you. You want to make it last. For me, one thing I savor is walrus soup. Walruses don’t swim upriver, so we rely completely on the kindness of you friends on the coast. When we do get walrus, I try to stretch out my meal. I’ll inhale gently through my nose and let the broth cascade over my tongue. I know a lot of folks cut the hair off, but I don’t even do that. I don’t want any of that tasty skin to go to waste.
Peter: Jesus, we’ve got your back
Once upon a time Jesus was explaining to his disciples about how he would be brutalized by the soldiers and then hung up naked on the cross. He told them that he would die and rise on the third day. Afterwards Peter pulled Jesus aside and said something like, “Lord, I don’t want to hear you talking like that. We’re here and we’ve got your back! Don’t worry!” (Matthew 16:21-22) I suppose you would have done the same thing if you were in Peter’s shoes.
The verbal smackdown
The first time I ever read this, I was expecting Jesus to say something like, “Thanks Peter, I knew I could count on you to stand up for me!” But that is the exact opposite of what Jesus said. Here it is: But he turned, and said unto Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23) Ouch. Did you read that? Far from thanking Peter, Jesus called him “Satan”.
Savoring the wrong stuff
Peter was thinking only of his own creature comfort and pride. He was savoring the things of man. He did not want to hurt. He did not want to see Jesus hurt. What he did not understand is that the catastrophe of Calvary was actually going to be smack dab in the middle of the will of God. Had he savored the things of God he would have grasped this.
Imagine if Peter had been successful
Imagine for a moment if Peter had been successful, if he had persuaded Jesus to skip the cross, or if he had raised up a militia to constantly surround Jesus with armed body guards. Imagine if Jesus had died of old age and then risen from the dead. The power of the cross would be of none effect. After all, prior to being nailed up naked on the cross, he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). No cross, no salvation. No Calvary, no hope. No deliverance from drug or alcohol addiction, no healing for the sick, no restoration for broken marriages, and no victory over death.
Think about it for a moment
If Peter was really savoring the things of God, if he could see far into the future and see the complete victory that would sweep over humanity, where people could repent of their sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see acts 2:38), if he could see heroin addicts pulling the needle out for the last time, alcoholics pouring out their wine and spirits and instead receiving the Holy Spirit, gamblers walking away from the card tables and the bingo halls, sicknesses healed, new hope breathed into depressed and hurting hearts, if he could count the number of souls who would turn away from darkness into His marvelous light, then Peter would have told Jesus, “If that’s what it takes, bring it on!”
What are you savoring?
In this same way in our own lives, we go through difficulty. This is why Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) There will be times where God calls us to let go of comfort and security, to quit savoring the things of man and instead savor the things of God. Jesus’ strange rebuke of Peter carries a powerful lesson for us: sometimes when it seems like everything is spinning completely out of control that God is totally in control. Sometime when we are hurting and struggling to find our way, we are actually where God needs us to be. We are walking around sucking our thumb and telling everyone we know how we can’t seem to feel God and we’re thinking about giving up when the fact of the matter is we might be right exactly where he wants us to be.
If we could quit savoring the things of man and begin savoring the things of God it would all be a whole lot easier on us. We might find that what seems like the last things that we need to happen in our lives are actually placing us right smack dab where God needs us to be. Which are you savoring?
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.