Thursday, August 7, 2014

Like a Rock

August 7, 2014

Gospel MT 16:13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Poor Peter. As we see so often in the Gospels, Peter does something AMAZING only to flub it up by either saying or doing something stupid. It's probably why Peter is such a relatable figure in the Bible. We, too, are capable of extraordinary and shameful deeds at any moment. We walk on water one moment, only to stumble and get wet the next. We can stand in God's presence and yet completely miss His magnificence. We can state something profound with one breath and entirely ignorant the next. 

Well, at least I can do all of these things. Every day is a reminder of just how foolish, incompetent, weak and dumb headed I can be. 

So, what captivates me most about this passage isn't either Peter's moment of clarity about who Jesus is nor his foot-mouth moment later on. Instead, I am encouraged by who Jesus says Peter is - the rock - and then Jesus's reminder to Peter about just how much changing he needs to do to become that rock. 

Jesus sees right to the core of who we are and sees the immense good of which we are capable. Similarly, if our hearts have the ears to listen, He can also point us to ways in which we fall short of this call. 

The best part, Jesus will never give up on us. No matter how far or hard we fall, no matter how often or long we stumble, Jesus will always be there.

We know how Peter's story ends - not falling into water, not trying to build tents on a mountaintop, not on Good Friday - upon him our Church was built.

If we're anything like Peter, like I know I am, we should take heart that God's not finished with us yet either. 
Jesus, continue to create us into the people you fashioned us to be. Help us to realize that you're not finished with us yet. Amen.