In the Bible, apostle Peter is the first human being who confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah (Matt. 16:16). Peter seemed to have gotten great insight in the teachings of Jesus. To the confession, Jesus admired Peter greatly, even saying, that he would establish his church on the confession (16:18). However, actually, Peter did not know exactly what he was saying in the confession. So, only after a little while, contrary to his confession, he rebuked Jesus, when he had revealed his coming suffering and death in Jerusalem (16:22). To the Peter, who tried to stand in his way, Jesus said unforgettable words—“Get behind me, Satan! You are hinderance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (16:23).
Here we find a great teaching on our life. The reason that Jesus called Peter Satan was that he was setting his mind on the things of man. Here, the idiom ‘setting one’s mind on’ means to set a thing as one that the person will want and seek constantly. It is not just setting a temporary preference but a constant desire for something. Because it means making a person’s mind to desire a thing constantly, there are at least two ramifications. First, the person will seek for it constantly. In other words, the person will do all things to accomplish it. In this regard, setting mind also means that the person sets his or her purpose of goal of life. Second, the person will live according to the mindset to value the thing the most. In this regard, setting one’s mind on something means to determine a basic and principle value of the person. Thus, the thing on which the person sets mind will drive the person’s life into a direction to fit the principle value. If the thing is money, the person will be a seeker of money; if love, of love.
Therefore, setting mind on the things of God means that the person will live seeking after the things of God, such as, love, mercy, righteousness, church, and eternal life. On the other hand, setting mind on the things of man means that the person will live seeking after the worldly things, such as, desire for money, power, beauty in appearance, and quality of life.
Even for the reason, wasn’t it to much to call a person Satan? When a man sets his mind on the things of man, i.e., the worldly things, as we have discussed, he set his principle value on them, and earning them will be his purpose and goal of life. He will do all things to achieve them. While he lives to accomplish them, he will discard the things of God and become hostile to God (Rom. 8:7). When his principle value and the godly values conflict, to secure the things he values, he will fight against the godly values. To achieve the worldly things, knowingly and unknowingly, he lives as an enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).
This man was Peter. Peter misunderstood the kingdom of God that Jesus was preaching. He thought it would be an earthly kingdom. And he expected to get a high position in it, like John and James did (Mark 10:37). He still had earthly value as his principle value, and it conflicted Jesus’ principle value, the will of God, according to which Jesus was living and going to die. He was worrying only about the earthly thing he wanted and did not care the suffering and death of his ‘friend.’ So, he tried to stand in his way, as Satan would have. This raises a serious question: On which is my mind set? Worldly things or godly?