Peter’s confession of faith leads to Jesus’ first prediction of His coming death, followed by His invitation to follow in His footsteps, carrying His cross. This is the core of the gospel. Because Jesus is the Son of God, His death and Resurrection gives us life. Because we are saved through Him, we must cling to Him and imitate Him, even if it means carrying a cross and laying down our lives.
Matthews Gospel emphasizes the role of Peter more than any other Gospel. He is the spokesperson for the other disciples and gets personally involved during challenging encounters. Peter is praised as the recipient of divine revelation when he proclaims Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”: He is named by Jesus as the foundation of the Church, and Jesus gives him special authority within His Church. The keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose refer to a special teaching authority given to Peter for the sake of the Church.
However, the faith of Peter is not yet complete.
He did not recognize that the Messiah and Son of God was to suffer and give up His life. He had not yet learned that disciples must not only recognize who Jesus is, but must also take up the cross and lay down their own lives.
When Jesus says: “Get behind me”, He could be telling Peter and us to follow in His footsteps.
Follow me to Calvary because that is the path to resurrection and eternal life. That is why Jesus came as Messiah to bring us eternal life.