Getting Behind Jesus
“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” (Matthew 16:23, ESV)
How do we follow Jesus? Recently, I’ve come to learn that the answers are so simple: to follow Jesus, we must look at him and remain behind Him.
These lessons are thanks to the endlessly cool Eric Gilmour, who I had the unique opportunity to spend a Saturday with at a School of His Presence conference. It seems elementary, but I’m starting to learn that we tend to try and complicate the simple truths of God’s beautiful gospel. At the end of the day, our heady qualifications and lofty, theological thoughts are not the prerequisites to living a life
submitted to Christ.
Instead, it is so much simpler than the things we try to make ourselves busy with. It is so much easier than the convoluted theories we make for ourselves to try and look accomplished or important. That is why even the poorest or meekest among men can walk closer with Jesus than exuberant billionaires or wealthy intellectuals: because the knowledge and peace of God cannot be bought or over-complicated.
So, fam, here are the two lessons I’m constantly reminding myself of in this season: In order to remain in the Lord’s presence, we need to do two things. We need to look at Jesus, and we need to stay behind him. Think about it. You cannot follow someone if you don’t look at them. You cannot follow someone if you walk ahead or in stride with them.
I think Eric says it best, so I’ll let him say it. “The way of man, human ingenuity, is stepping in front of the Lord. We must recognize that if we trust in our own way and are not subject to living our lives behind Him, He has only one thing to say to us, “Get behind Me.” It is satanic to get out from behind Him. We must live every day of our lives subjected to His divine rule.”
Our key verse backs up what Eric said. In Matthew 16, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. Peter, lacking the perfect foresight of the Lord, tells Jesus that this cannot be; to which Jesus corrects Peter, saying “Get behind me, Satan.” Now, it’s true, Peter’s reaction was out of his love for Jesus. Any one of us might have said the same, not wanting Jesus to die such a brutal death. But Jesus, knowing the full plan of the Father, had to correct Peter. Jesus had to remind him that his ways are not God’s ways; his thoughts are not God’s thoughts.
We may have the best of intentions, but if our intentions would cause us to step out from behind God and His will for us, then they are not in line with the Creator. If our desires, aspirations, or itineraries race ahead of Jesus, then they walk outside of the sovereign hand of the Father. If our flesh doesn’t stay in the shadow of the Son, then we will only naturally feel the effects of walking outside of His presence.
The purest example I can find of someone walking within God’s will, no matter what the physical cost, comes from First Samuel. This book chronicles much of the earlier days of King David’s life. If you’re well versed in the story, then you’ll know that David knew a lot of people and it took a village to get him to the throne, but one person stands alone from the crowd in David’s heart: Jonathan.
This was the bromance to end all bromances. In 1 Samuel 20, it goes so far as to say that Jonathan loved David as his own soul. As things came to a head between Jonathan’s father, King Saul, and the future king of Israel, it became apparent that David could not coexist with the current king. At this point, Jonathan could have done two things. He could have taken the road of self-preservation because, by all counts, David was a threat to Jonathan’s very life. In those days, in order for a crown to change bloodlines, the old bloodline had to be blotted out completely in order to prevent someone from making a claim to the crown and causing an unstable kingdom and further bloodshed. The very fact that David is anointed by God to be king one day is a threat to Jonathan’s life as the first in line to Saul’s crown.
But Jonathan truly loved David, and therefore, truly loved God. So instead of handing David over to his father to save his own life, he helps David escape and go into hiding. Instead of stepping out from behind the will of God, Jonathan stays firmly behind Him.
“May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” (1 Samuel 20: 13b-15, ESV)
Jonathan’s love and submission to God’s plan are so pure and precious. He knows that it may very well be God’s will that he never survives to see David made king, simply because of who his earthly father is. And yet, he still chooses God’s will. He never questions it, he never curses it, and he never fights it. Instead, he yields to it and honors it. He remains behind the sovereign hand of the Lord. He put God’s glory in front of his own self-interest, to the point of saying, “Hey, if it’s God’s will for me to die, then I am all for it.”
What a high aspiration for us to follow today, but I pray that it would be our goal to always put God’s glory in front of our own self-preservation. I pray that my life would remain obedient and in submission to His plan, despite where my emotions wish to take me. I pray for the patience and the self-control to stand my ground when the Lord asks me to hold still. But most importantly, I pray that any decision we make as followers of Christ would never endeavor for us to step in front of Him.
His glory is too bright and beautiful for us to ever try and obstruct it, and no desire is ever worth stepping outside of His sweet presence.
So today, I encourage you to find time to be alone, look at Him, and get behind Him. His shadow is the only place where we can fully realize the depth of His person and the wonder of His Spirit.
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