Like millions of others, I am a fan of Charlie Brown. I still make time to watch the Christmas and Halloween specials each year when they are aired on network T.V. Again, like so many, I find it easy to empathize with this shy character and inwardly cringe at the insult, “You’re a blockhead, Charlie Brown,” every time I hear it, especially considering CB didn’t deserve to be called that.
That really is quite the insult as it questions the intelligence of the target. There is no mistaking the intent when that word is thrown at someone; it is a direct put down.
Jesus, being more polite than most, didn’t use quite that term when he called Peter out for something he had said. But make no mistake, the Lord wanted to get his disciple’s attention when in response to Peter’s claim that Jesus should never go through with the idea of being put to death. The last thing I ever want to hear from the Son of God is, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.” (Matthew 16:23 NIV).
Leaving alone the fact that Jesus refers to Peter, the man one paragraph above this quote He said He was going to use as the rock on which He would build His church, as Satan; the Lord tells the befuddled Peter that he is a stumbling block to the salvation plan.
It might have hurt Peter less if Jesus had called him a blockhead instead of a stumbling block. The word the Lord said Peter was to Him meant that he was an obstacle to a cause. From this word we get the word scandalous today. Of all the things I can think Jesus might call me, being an obstacle to His plans is not one I want to hear. Causing a scandal over Jesus by something I erroneously have said, even less so.
And not to omit that Jesus referred to one of His devoted followers as Satan, we must consider (as always!) the context of the narrative. What Peter said, in what the Bible says was in the form of a rebuke, sounded awfully close to what Satan had said to Jesus as he tempted the Lord in the desert just after His baptism. Satan had shown Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, telling Him he could be ruler over them all, if only the Lord would worship him. Like Peter, Satan was saying Jesus could avoid the awful suffering awaiting Him by taking a softer, easier way to His destination.
Jesus would have none of that from the devil, and He certainly didn’t want to entertain the idea from Peter. God had/has/will have the perfect plan; we need to trust that in order to not stumble into the way of it being carried out.
Somewhat easier said than done, however, for me anyway. After all, I make most of my plans after some thought, looking into possible outcomes as best I can. I do not think I would ever intentionally be a stumbling block to anyone, let alone the Lord Jesus Christ and His plans.
Still, if I go about my most careful planning without seeking any divine direction or influence by not praying about it, I can in fact have the outcome of that plan be something that causes a stumble off the Lord’s path; and it’s me who would be the most likely to trip and fall because of it!
Like many, I do most of my best learning from my mistakes, and having the occasional stumble-block result from my ideas has helped me to eliminate some of my tendency to make similar mistakes again.
So, if I were not to learn from my errors and slips in the past, I could be aptly called a blockhead after all!
Blessings and thanks from reading,