Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”Mark 8:27-33
From the outskirts of Bethsaida, Jesus and his disciples walked north to Caesarea Philippi, located in the foothills of Mt. Hermon. In this picturesque setting, lush with vegetation and flowing streams, Jesus had an intimate conversation with his disciples.
“But who do you say that I am?” he asked. Though public opinion held Jesus to be a prophet, Peter identified him as the Messiah (Christos in Greek; mashiach in Hebrew). Neither the disciples nor the Jews at large had any inkling of the Passion about to unfold. For this reason Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. The title “Messiah” in the popular mind evoked ideas and images contrary to the plan of God.
Instead of leading Israel to nationalistic glory and victory over Rome and other oppressors, “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” The “Lamb of God” heralded by John the Forerunner will be “led to slaughter… silent before shearers” (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7).
Peter recoiled from such a scandalous idea and presumed to correct his master. Lest the other disciples follow his lead, Jesus turned toward them all and rebuked Peter as a prey to evil: “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (RSV)