“But he [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)
This sixteenth chapter of Matthew is proof positive of human inconsistency, whether the human is a believer or an unbeliever. In no time, it seems, after Jesus had commended Simon Peter’s spiritual perception (v. 17), He was forced to turn around and rebuke him for reasoning like the Devil. But the part of this verse that I really want to hone in on is Jesus’ use of the word “savourest” in describing Peter’s perspective.
Whether spelled “savour,” or “savor,” as we do, the meaning is the same: “a quality in relation to the sense of taste.” It can also involve the sense of smell, as we see numerous times in Old Testament passages concerning the nation Israel’s sacrifices to God, and, in the New Testament, speaking of the one final Sacrifice, Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:2). In any case, it refers to our senses, as we know them, and God’s, which we can never know.
Jesus’ indictment against His disciple was that when it came to the prospect of a hell-defying Church (v. 18), and a glorious Kingdom (v. 19), he was ready to “dig in”; but when it came to the expectation of suffering and death (v. 21), he suddenly lost his appetite! Admittedly, it was Jesus’ death that Peter found especially repugnant, but had he walked all these months with the Lord, only to question His judgment now? Besides the fact that His Death and Resurrection were the prerequisite to the promised Church and Kingdom, not to the mention the only means of redemption from sin, there is a principle involved here. And Jesus spells it out in verse twenty-four: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
The surest way to know whether or not we have a taste for the things of God is to see how we react when God’s will goes against our own, especially when ours would seem to be more victorious—at least in the short run. How quick are we to spit out an unsavory situation, and substitute our own more palatable choice? When our side seems to be losing, our church and pastor pilloried and persecuted, or our loyalty to Jesus Christ threatens to cost us dearly, do we not only lack the stomach for it, but even the taste? If so, you and I, like Peter, do not savor the things of God, but the things of men.
We may appear to be good people. Just lacking in good taste. Sad…