The Astounding Turnaround!

Matthew 16:23, But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

In one of the most remarkable “turnarounds” in Jesus’ ministry, Peter went from the disciple to whom God revealed Jesus’ true identity (Matthew 16:18, 19) to the disciple used by Satan to tempt Jesus. Astounding! One moment he was a recipient of God’s special revelation declaring Jesus was the Christ. The next moment he was used by Satan as a means of tempting Jesus. In back-to-back incidents, he was used by God in a special way and then by Satan in a special way. That alarms us! The fact that God made use of him did not mean that it was impossible for Satan to use him!

One special insight is provided by the Greek word translated ‘stumbling block.’ It literally means ‘a bait stick in a trap.’ The common form of traps for animals in ancient times was a snare. For the snare to be effective, the animal must be lured inside the snare. Thus a stick was scented with a smell that either appealed to the animal or incited the animal’s curiosity. When the bait stick deceived an animal and lured it by smell into the snare, the animal was trapped and eventually lost its life.

It is fascinating that the person deemed fit for God’s special revelation was also deemed fit to be the ‘bait stick’ [the lure] into a snare Satan set for Jesus! After Peter declared Jesus was the Christ, Jesus began to explain to the twelve that he would suffer, be killed, and be resurrected in Jerusalem. To Peter it was unthinkable that God’s promised Christ would suffer and be killed! He responded to Jesus’ information with, “This shall never happen to you.” At that moment, Satan used Peter as a ‘bait stick in a trap.’ Satan through Peter said, “There is a route to being Lord that does not include suffering and crucifixion.” To Jesus, that possibility had appeal. Though Peter did not comprehend the significance of what he said, what he said was a deadly temptation to Jesus.

This world, temporarily under the control of evil, is filled with snares set for the righteous. It is easy for God’s man or woman to be deceptively lured into those snares—by materialism, by consumerism, by pleasure, by security, by fear, by ignorance, by arrogance, by pain, by jealousy, etc. We need each other’s help and encouragement as we walk through a life filled with snares.

Just as with Peter, the fact that God uses you for His purposes does not mean that Satan cannot use you for his purposes. We need each other! It is so easy to be deceived by evil! It is so easy to think evil is good! It is so easy for curiosity to destroy us! It is so easy for the ‘present moment’ to blind us! It is so easy for us to substitute our expectations for God’s priorities!

We need each other’s spiritual encouragement. We need each other’s spiritual eyes and spiritual values. We need to help each other see the snares and avoid the ‘bait sticks.’

Please do not let Satan use you as his ‘bait stick’! Dare to be God’s encouragement!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 06 January 2005

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