Then Peter took Him and began rebuking Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall not happen to You.”Matthew 16:22
Peter attempts to teach the Teacher. He criticizes Jesus assuming he knows better. Peter is primed with (to him) contemporary thinking that the Messiah came to vanquish enemies. Jesus couldn’t do that if He died, right?
The Conquering Messiah
In the political climate of the time, there was a short list of agreement among Jewish sects. This included important differences on the expectation of the Messiah. The Essenes were expecting a military hero that would reform temple worship. The Sadducees had no messianic expectations, denied resurrection, and therefore had limited expectations of a future Davidic Kingdom. The Idumaeans (Herodians) would also not be interested in a competing leader. The Pharisees however, expected a Messiah.
One particular agreement amongst the sects was a longing for freedom from Roman rule. This idea had roots in the earlier Maccabean revolt and eventually culminated in AD70. There are important Jewish writings that many are unfamiliar with, and this would include an apocryphal work called the Psalms of Solomon. This book has ties to the Maccabean revolt and is considered non-canonical, yet it was part of the Septuagint. Some of these psalms demonstrate an awareness of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem. Others are clearly Messianic. One in particular Psalms of Solomon 17 is similar to Psalm 72 (also attributed to Solomon.)
It was this Psalms of Solomon 17 that seems to have formed much of the political expectations that the Pharisees had of the Messiah. This idea would also be known among the citizenry of Israel. This particular Psalm is messianic. I will cite a part of it from the Septuagint that demonstrates the expectation.
See, O Lord, and raise up their king for them, a son of David, for the proper time that you see, God, to rule over Israel your servant. And undergird him with strength to shatter unrighteous rulers. Cleanse Jerusalem from the nations that trample it in destruction, to expel sinners from the inheritance in wisdom, in righteousness, to rub out the arrogance of the sinner like a potter’s vessel, to crush all their support with an iron rod; to destroy lawless nations by the word of his mouth, for Gentiles to flee from his face at his threat, and to reprove sinners by the word of their heart.Psalms of Solomon 17:23–27 — The Lexham English Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012)
It is a line in that Psalm above that takes us to the next point, the identity of the servant. Second Temple era Judaism interpreted much of the texts speaking of the suffering servant as an identification of the nation Israel. Just as it is above.
But what does the Bible show us?
Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him;Isaiah 42:1
he shall bring forth justice to the nations.
You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.Isaiah 43:10
He said to me, “You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”Isaiah 49:3
See, My servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.Isaiah 52:13
Hear this, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends sitting before you, for these men are a sign. I am bringing My servant, the Branch. The stone that I have set before Joshua, on that single stone is seven eyes. And I will engrave an inscription, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in one day.Zechariah 3:8–9
I offer a few of the texts to demonstrate that this servant idea applies to both Israel as a nation and to the Messiah. It might be clear to us modern thinkers, but not so much for any Israeli at that time.
Being that an Israeli would consider the servant to be the nation of Israel, writings such as Psalm 22 would be taken as a cry from the nation as a servant. Isaiah 53 would also be understood as not messianic in nature.
Who has believed our report?Isaiah 53:1–12
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground. He has no form or majesty that we should look upon him nor appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from him;
he was despised, and we did not esteem him.
Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was struck. His grave was assigned with the wicked, yet with the rich in his death,
because he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief. If he made himself as an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the anguish of his soul and be satisfied.
By his knowledge My righteous servant shall justify the many, for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, thus he bore the sin of many
and made intercession for the transgressors.
This portion of Isaiah is not known by many Jewish folk today. It is called the forbidden chapter. It is excluded from haftara portions that are read openly in synagogues.
In hindsight, this particular chapter outlines the mission of the Messiah as told beforehand in excruciating detail. He would necessarily suffer and die for sins.
Perhaps it was overlooked that if Messiah made Himself an offering for sins, it also says “(H)e shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Th were is no other way to describe that but as resurrection. No other explanation can be made as to how someone can prolong Their days after One dies.
With all that in mind, it seems apropos that Jesus would begin to speak about resurrection.
Zechariah told us the servant is the Rock. The Bible talks about Jesus being the precious cornerstone that to some, specifically Israelis, would be a rock of offense. One to stumble over, just as Peter did.
Why not? Because they did not seek it by faith, but by the works of the law. For they stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:Romans 9:32–33
“Look! I lay in Zion a stumbling stone
and rock of offense, and whoever believes in Him will not be ashamed.”
Peter is expecting the Conquering King. He is expecting a Righteous Ruler. A suffering Servant was not expected. The talk of resurrection would also be unexpected and go right over his head.
As Jesus had stated before this rebuke of Peter, He would suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes. All of which would lead to His death. Yet He boldly said He would prolong His days and be raised on the third day.
Peter’s response to it is disbelief. To his credit, I might be able to understand that thinking. It raises a question in my mind.
Why would a Conquering King need to die before taking His rightful place on the throne?
There are other messianic texts that fill in details. The prophecies were clear.
“Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until the Prince Messiah shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. It shall be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of trouble. After the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the troops of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.Daniel 9:25–26
Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. The euphemism cut off is a reference to sudden death. Peter has no excuse not to know this as the penalty for sin that is ascribed in the law. Yet plainly, the mission of the Messiah is clearly outlined in the Tanakh. Peter is taking an emotionally humanistic view, not quite understanding the precise timing.
Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.Daniel 9:24
That text comes before the prophecy of the Messiah being cut off. It lays out the planned timing. 70 weeks are given (that’s a figure of speech meaning 490 years.) Messiah is cut off after 69 weeks.
It follows that if Messiah is to put an end to all of that, one week is left after being cut off. He would need to prolong His days to accomplish the task. He would have to be alive after dying.
To this day, controversy is afoot concerning these passages in Daniel. Some say the prophecies are done. Others say seven more years remain for Israel. One must also consider why a nation was destroyed and its people scattered, survived as a people for millennia. They are now being gathered into a nation called Israel born in a day. A student of prophecy knows that the nation as a whole has not been regathered in history. We are witnesses to God keeping His Word.
Daniel 9:24 speaks to a finish of transgression, end of sins, atonement and to bring in everlasting righteousness. Our experience demonstrates these things are yet (very near) future. As the scattered Israelis are continually being called home.
To the first century Jewish mind, it would be murky at best. Especially when the nation is under brutal Roman occupation. Read that as being lorded over by Gentile mutts. Peter wanted a King. He did not want what seemed a suicide mission.
ImOur attention must be brought into focus. Jesus spoke of His death and His resurrection. Both are an integral part of His mission. And each accomplish different tasks. One a Satisfaction off the justice due for sins. The other as complete removal of sins.
This two-fold mission of the Rock is also the very thing that presents itself as a stumbling block. It is that sense, this same Rock is the Cornerstone Jesus is going to build His church on. Some are going to stumble over that. The mensch Peter didn’t get the death part because he didn’t expect the victory in resurrection.
One thought on “Paneas and Peter’s Rebuke of Jesus”
Pingback: Paneas and Sacrifice – Master's Crumbs