Daily Word

Setting your mind | Matthew 16:21-23

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![ e ] This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[ f ] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Matthew 16:21-23 (ESV)

Review of authority

Jesus has in the previous passages recognized Peter’s profession of Christ’s identity based on a special revelation from the Father. He has also identified the special authority Peter (and the others) will have related to the kingdom of God. In today’s passage, this same Peter, whom Catholics venerate at the first Pope, acts in a very “un-Popish” manner!

Prophecy of death

When we talk about prophecy, we typically think of OT prophecies fulfilled in the NT (especially around the identity of Jesus) or NT prophecies about future events like the end time. We must not overlook that Jesus predicted His own death. It’s true He already knew the religious leaders didn’t like Him and even hated Him. Here He not only predicts His death by their hands, but also that He would be raised to life after three days. For sure, no one had ever done this, let alone been able to!

Peter the Pope?

After the past passages, anyone who thinks Peter was the first Pope (sinless vicar of Christ) will surely be convinced otherwise. It’s amazing how quickly Peter goes from proclaiming the fundamental gospel message with the Father’s inspiration, to being called Satan. You might say Peter goes 0-60 (or the reverse) in 0 seconds, from spiritual superstar to Christ’s enemy.

Peter’s character is such that he speaks whatever is on his mind. So when he heard Jesus proclaiming His death, his voice expressed his heart. But as with the first statement in Matt 16:16, I think he’s probably speaking for the others as well. Maybe his thought was, “No, you can’t die. Who will continue to lead us? What will we do without you?” Was Peter really Satan possessing Peter? I doubt it. Likely, Satan cultivated this thought in his mind, even inspired this thought…similar to what the Father did (Matt 16:16). 

Setting your mind

How did Peter get to this point – and so quickly? Jesus says Peter is setting his mind on earthly things, not on things of heaven. Jesus is telling the disciples earthly things that will happen, but for a heavenly purpose, a redemptive reason. Paul picks up on this in his letter to the Colossians: “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].” (Colossians 3:2 AMP)


  • What do you find yourself thinking about every day? Reflect on your most recent 8 waking hours (and even your dreams). What’s the topic? Is it heavenly focused or earthly? What’s the ratio? If I could guess based on my own thoughts, it’s maybe 30/70 on a good day. When I’m in a rush and/ or under pressure, it drops way down.
  • If you rarely think of heavenly things, re-evaluate if you are a believer. Review this.
Drag race finish line 0-60. Image from coderlessons.com *

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