We are not told how thick Simon’s head had swollen, but whatever Peter thought Jesus meant was soon shattered. Jesus did not need a rock to defend him, but one that would lend support to his followers. Thus, when Jesus began to tell his disciples that He will have to be handed over, that He will suffer, and that He will die; Peter took Jesus aside and determined not to let this happen to his beloved Master. What a shock it must have been when Jesus compared Peter to Satan, and that in front of the other disciples. It must have been unreal to hear Jesus say, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you do not consider the things of God but those of men” (Mt. 16:21-23). Apparently, this humiliation for Peter was brief. Jesus must not have been in one of his better moods. After all, how could one be blessed and rejected at the same time? According to Luke, all the disciples had risen above reality, and they required some rude awakening. Jesus stunned them by saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” They were about to step on snakes, Satan’s territory; but Jesus gave the disciples strength to overcome Satan’s trickery. Jesus told the disciples that they should not glory in their success, but that they should glory in the fact that their names would appear in heaven (Lk. 10:18-20). With Peter, Jesus was even more specific. When the big fisherman persisted with the notion that he could love Jesus more than the other disciples (Jn. 21:15), and that he would not deny his Teacher but prefer to die with Him if necessary; Jesus shocked Peter again by declaring, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has sought to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you come back (from your fall), strengthen your brethren” (Lk. 22:31-32). Of course, Peter kept on denying that such things could ever happen to him. Here, too, we could identify with Peter. Satan will spend most of his time on people who try to imitate Jesus and try to be “Makarioi.”
There were twelve disciples, but only one was called “blessed” or “makarios.” It was Simon, son of Jonah, who showed the potential of becoming a “makarios.” Simon was renamed, “Peter.” Jesus singled Peter out for leadership. What was there about this man that attracted Jesus to him and many others throughout history? In retrospect, we can find many outstanding qualities that many of us would desire. Historians have a tendency to make small people great and great people small. If we had met Simon on the day Jesus met him, would we have seen in the man what Jesus saw?
Hatred clouded the Pharisees’ minds. They were wrong in assuming that there were no rulers that believed in Jesus. We know that there was at least one young ruler that had gone to Jesus and even called him a “good teacher” (Lk. 18:18). There were at least two Pharisees, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus that believed in Jesus. The Pharisees, themselves, admitted when they saw the crowd following Jesus, “Look at it, the world has gone after him” (Jn. 12:19). People from all over the inhabited world had come to the feast of the Passover and they were welcoming Jesus as the future king (Jn. 6:15). The Greeks desired a special audience with Jesus (Jn. 12:20-21). The people were not the cursed. They were reaping the blessings because of the hope Jesus had brought when He entered Jerusalem on a baby donkey. It lasted only one day, but there was none like it since the days of King David. That was the reason the crowd shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David!” (Mt. 21:9). To the leaders, it too was an insult.
A blind man was carrying a lantern. When he was asked for a reason, he replied, “I carry a lantern to keep people who can see from bumping into me.” In our world, we constantly bump into others or they bump into us. We are all quite clumsy at this and we are quick at feeling hurt. From the cradle to the grave, we tender our feelings. When I asked my five - year old granddaughter what was bothering her, she said, “You hurt my feelings, grandpa.” And after determining the cause, it was actually grandpa’s feelings that were hurt. She was covering up her own little blunders.
Jesus himself set the example of being a doer and He expected no less from his followers. “Do not presume that I have come to free you from the Law and the Prophets but to keep you bound to them. Heaven and earth will pass away before a single dot of the Law can be changed. Therefore, whoever disobeys the smallest fraction of the Law and has others follow him, he will amount to very little in the kingdom; but those that preserve it will play a huge role in the kingdom” (Mt. 5:17-19). “Blessed (makarios) are those that know and obey the words of prophecy and do what is written in it” (Rev. 1:3). This is what the Greek text says to me and I am persuaded that the “makarioi” understand it.