I have been preaching through the book of Mark and recently preached on Mark 8, where Jesus begins to teach his disciples that he must suffer many things, be rejected, die, and rise again. Peter scolds Jesus and Jesus, in turn, scolds Peter: “Get behind me, Satan.”
A study of the way “behind me” is used in Mark’s Gospel suggests that it is the language of discipleship. When Jesus called Peter, the same words are used: “Come behind me” (1:17). And in the very next verse, after Jesus rebukes Peter, he uses the same words again: “If anyone wants to come behind me” (8:34).
In that light, it appears that what Jesus is saying to Peter is not “Go away and don’t come back.” Rather, it is “Get back behind me. Return to your proper place as a disciple, not confronting me satanically to tempt me to step off the way, but following behind me on the way.”